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Voter Cynicism, Perception of Media Negativism and Voting Behavior in Taiwan's 2001 Election
Unformatted Document Text:  2 Taiwan’s media during the campaign period was the bias toward the ruling party (Lo, et al., 1996; Peng, 1995). Since the proliferation of cable stations after the passage of the cable law in 1993, however, a greater number of news channels competed for audience attention. Cable stations produced both cheap political talk shows and satire programs targeted at specialized audiences, the latter of which has been quite a phenomenon in Taiwan (Peng, 2002; Wang, 2002). Similar to the campaigns in the Unite States in recent years, the campaigning process in Taiwan has been full of negativism. Mark Mitchell has written “At one time or another, negative campaigning and personal attacks sent members of each of Taiwan’s four major parties to their knees, weeping. Or at least they put on a good show of crying as the TV cameras recorded their entreaties to the electorate voted for them out of sympathy…” (Time, December 10, 2001, p. 43). Cable television, of course, seized every opportunity to broadcast live, a move, which raised much criticism by scholars. Ratings were high, however, and politicians and television (especially cable) both benefited from the electoral process. The dirty campaign process disgusted some voters. While journalists and scholars have labeled voters as being “angry,” “alienated,” “apathetic,” “cynical,” “negative,” and experiencing malaise, research findings were less consistent in linking voter cynicism with voters’ media use and actual voting patterns. One purpose of this research is to compare Taiwan voter demographics with voter perceptions of media negativism and cynicism during the campaign period. The goal is to see whether or not these perceptions are related to their voting behavior and the satisfaction toward the electoral process as well as outcome. One view is that the political campaigns the voters see are not the real campaign but the media’s version of it (Patterson, 1980, p.9). The mass media have also been criticized for adding to the negativity of the political environment (Cappella & Jamieson, 1997; Patterson, 1993). Patterson (1993) argued that there is a connection between increased cynical news and growing public cynicism. An ongoing project on ‘Visions of Governance for the Twenty-first Century’ initiated by Dean Joseph Nye at the John F. Kennedy School of Government has begun to explore what people want from government. The first volume from the project, “Why People Don’t Trust Government,” generated lively debate over government performance. Moreover, Norris (1999) continued discussing the issues of critical citizenry, democratic crisis, and malaise. In her analysis of the state of support for

Authors: Peng, Wein (Bonnie).
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Taiwan’s media during the campaign period was the bias toward the ruling party (Lo,
et al., 1996; Peng, 1995). Since the proliferation of cable stations after the passage of
the cable law in 1993, however, a greater number of news channels competed for
audience attention. Cable stations produced both cheap political talk shows and satire
programs targeted at specialized audiences, the latter of which has been quite a
phenomenon in Taiwan (Peng, 2002; Wang, 2002).
Similar to the campaigns in the Unite States in recent years, the campaigning process
in Taiwan has been full of negativism. Mark Mitchell has written “At one time or
another, negative campaigning and personal attacks sent members of each of Taiwan’s
four major parties to their knees, weeping. Or at least they put on a good show of
crying as the TV cameras recorded their entreaties to the electorate voted for them out
of sympathy…” (Time, December 10, 2001, p. 43). Cable television, of course, seized
every opportunity to broadcast live, a move, which raised much criticism by scholars.
Ratings were high, however, and politicians and television (especially cable) both
benefited from the electoral process.
The dirty campaign process disgusted some voters. While journalists and scholars
have labeled voters as being “angry,” “alienated,” “apathetic,” “cynical,” “negative,”
and experiencing malaise, research findings were less consistent in linking voter
cynicism with voters’ media use and actual voting patterns. One purpose of this
research is to compare Taiwan voter demographics with voter perceptions of media
negativism and cynicism during the campaign period. The goal is to see whether or
not these perceptions are related to their voting behavior and the satisfaction toward
the electoral process as well as outcome.
One view is that the political campaigns the voters see are not the real campaign but
the media’s version of it (Patterson, 1980, p.9). The mass media have also been
criticized for adding to the negativity of the political environment (Cappella &
Jamieson, 1997; Patterson, 1993). Patterson (1993) argued that there is a connection
between increased cynical news and growing public cynicism.
An ongoing project on ‘Visions of Governance for the Twenty-first Century’ initiated
by Dean Joseph Nye at the John F. Kennedy School of Government has begun to
explore what people want from government. The first volume from the project,
“Why People Don’t Trust Government,” generated lively debate over government
performance. Moreover, Norris (1999) continued discussing the issues of critical
citizenry, democratic crisis, and malaise. In her analysis of the state of support for


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