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Peeling Away Political Ads In Class

October 29, 2010, 5:04 PM by Katie Janssen

Peeling Away Political Ads In Class
SIOUX FALLS, SD - The campaign ads have been heating up the airwaves, and some of them have gotten a bit aggressive. A class at Augustana College is using those ads as a teaching tool, looking at both their message and their intent.

The persuasive campaign class may be small, but the students have some lively conversations about the ads coming out of this year's election. Friday, teacher Mike Nitz showed TV ads by the two main candidates for U.S. House.

"It appears Stephanie Herseth Sandlin is focusing on Kristi Noem as reckless and wrong direction. Kristi Noem is focusing on Stephanie Herseth Sandlin as not being the independent voice anymore,” Nitz said. “So we look at the slogans, some clips from YouTube, the sub-slogans."

Students don't just look at the ad campaigns; they also analyze the strategies and objectives behind them.

"How they try to get people to believe and commit to their message and take action," student Dirk Tedmon said.

Nitz asks students to think about each ad, its sponsor and its overall intent, whether it's to inform, entertain or tear down the competition.

"This maybe is not the most important thing about a candidate, but it really has a great influence on people," student Aleksandra Dakova said.

In a way, these students are peeling away the layers of political ads, but they're also part of the target audience as voters. Students agree that as the clock winds down to Election Day, they're grateful to see fewer attack ads.

"I think sometimes they're effective.  They get to the point but sometimes I think they're so over-the-top, it kind of pushes people away,” Tedmon said. “They're tired."

Nitz is also planning a post-election wrap-up class for the day after the election to see what worked and what didn't.

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