Elements of Political Communication: General guidelines – Accuracy
Your organization or campaign publishes thousands of words, both printed and spoken. Without an accurate message, careful audiences can judge you as careless, apathetic, or worst of all, ignorant. Candidates and organizations must carefully consider the consequences of every element of the messages they create. Therefore, be truthful and correct. In most cases, you are not expected to cite your sources, but you should be certain your information is clear and correct before you publish it. Otherwise, audiences may question the validity of your entire piece.
Some research has indicated that the reliability of sources has little effect on a reader's long-term acceptance or rejection of a position; however, the general trend of research over the past five decades indicates that highly credible sources are far more effective in terms of changing an audience's attitude or behavior. Since incorrect assertions are more easily republished (and fact-checked) in today's media environment, you should err on the side of caution when citing specific information. Quoting advocacy groups’ studies or polls does little to help your argument. No group is universally accepted as a definitive source, so consider the cost–benefit ratio of using the findings before you include them. If you quote an authority, know the person's views and speciality intimately. Avoid referencing trendy intellectuals; name dropping of this kind will turn off a portion of your audience.
A: According to the American Moralistic Society, 69 percent of Americans believe that our moral values are getting worse.
B: According to a poll conducted on example.com, 69 percent of Americans believe that our moral values are getting worse.
C: According to the annual Gallup Values and Beliefs Poll from May 2011, 69 percent of Americans believe that our moral values are getting worse.
D: Almost 70 percent of Americans believe that our moral values are getting worse.
A: Friedrich Nietzsche once wrote that "there is always some madness in love. But there is always, also, some method in madness." He was right.
B: Shakespeare once wrote that "love was lost in the winter air/lo, it strideth from here to there." He was right.
C: Ray Bradbury once wrote that "We know what we love, we are what we love." He was right.
D: Pat Benetar once sang that "love is a battlefield". She was right.
A: Sarah Palin quit her job as governor because of ethics violations and her association with the felon Ted Stevens.
B: Sarah Palin quit her job as governor amid a series of ethics investigations.
C: Sarah Palin quit her job as governor to stymie the partisan, trumped-up charges against her.
D: Sarah Palin quit her job as governor for mysterious reasons.
- Huckfeldt et al., “Ambiguity, Distorted Messages, and Nested Environmental Effects”, 1025–1026.
- Hovland and Weiss, "Influence of Source Credibility", 649–650.
- Pornpitakpan, "Persuasiveness of Source Credibility", 247.
- Saad, "Fewer Americans Down".
- Nietzche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, 39.
- Completely fabricated quote, as the answer indicates.
- Correct quote: "We love what we know, we love what we are." From Bradbury, Something Wicked This Way Comes, 1962.
- Vicini, "More Prosecutor Misconduct".