CAMERA, ACTION! NEW BOOK LOOKS AT
HOW CAMERAS AFFECT POLITICAL PROCESS
- Ever since John F. Kennedy's star-making turn in the 1960 presidential
debate with Richard Nixon, television has influenced the public's
But does television
shape the politicians too?
In his latest
book, "Legislative Television as Political Advertising,"
Frank Mixon, a Business Advisory Council professor of economics
at The University of Southern Mississippi, examines how cameras
both change the behavior of politicians and how they can benefit
their re-election campaigns.
remembers how in the O.J. Simpson trial, when the cameras came on,
lawyers, judges, witnesses - everyone - used it as a platform to
perform," Mixon said. "We take that premise and see how
politicians behave in the legislative arena."
with Kamal P. Upadhyaya, an associate professor of economics at
the University of New Haven in Connecticut, the book also illustrates
the impact of television on the length of sessions in the U.S. House
and Senate and explains how the parliamentary procedure differs
in the presence - or absence - of cameras.
that anyone who has watched C-SPAN or C-SPAN2, the nonprofit cable
networks that cover gavel-to-gavel coverage of the House of Representatives
and the Senate, respectively, has seen a politician giving a lengthy,
passionate speech before a largely empty chamber.
probably wouldn't be standing there as often or as long if there
weren't cameras on them," Mixon said. "But they are using
that 'free' air time to speak to their constituents back home. Before
television, voters had to obtain a copy of these speeches, which
could be about 30,000 words or more."
been watching politicians at work - and shaping their behavior -
for almost 25 years, Mixon said. Through C-SPAN, a public service
organization dedicated to providing unedited, balanced views of
government and public policy forums, viewers can witness firsthand
the parliamentary procedure as it unfolds.
the occasional target of late-night comedians' jokes, isn't just
for insomniacs and hard-core political junkies anymore. With the
introduction of C-SPAN3, which covers public policy forums, the
combined viewership of the three networks tops more than 28.5 million
in 85 million homes, the C-SPAN network garners more viewers each
week than The West Wing, NBC's highly popular television drama that
reaches 17 million viewers in a similar span. "Put into that
context, C-SPAN's influence is pretty amazing," Mixon said.
legislation has influenced voters, it has also shaped the politicians
who represent them. A look at the length of proceedings in Congress
suggests that cameras tend to welcome "grandstanding and posturing
that might not otherwise take place," Mixon said. In the U.S.
Senate, where recorded votes are an average of 63 minutes longer
when cameras are present, incumbents use that chamber's parliamentary
procedure as "low-cost advertising."
time amounts to "free" advertising for incumbents, it
is anything but that for taxpayers. Administrative costs (in the
Senate) for this added procedural time amounts to as much as $3
million per Congress, according to Mixon.
In the book,
published by iUniverse, Inc. and available since mid-March, Mixon
examines the increased use of "1-minute speeches," that
period each day before or after House proceedings that allows politicians
to directly address their constituents. This avenue gives incumbents
competitive exposure that up-starts must pay top-dollar for, reinforcing
the virtual stranglehold on office that incumbents enjoy.
like this whole reality TV thing right now, where you're not sure
who's acting and who's being spontaneous," Mixon said. "It's
sort of like what's happening in Congress. These fist-pounding,
fiery speeches wouldn't be there probably without the cameras on
This is Mixon's
second book. His first, published in 2002 by Writers Club Press,
detailed the social opportunity costs of the Social Security System.
He has recently published journal articles for Economic Inquiry,
Southern Economic Journal, Journal of Money, Credit and Banking,
European Journal of Law and Economics, and Public Choice.
PHOTOGRAPHER TO LEAD WORKSHOP, PRESENTATION MARCH 10
-- Award-winning wildlife photographer Tom Ulrich will lead
two photographic events at the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory on
Wednesday, March 10.
He will present
a nature photography workshop from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and then
a talk and slide show called "Wildlife Images 2003" at
7 p.m., both at The University of Southern Mississippi GCRL.
the evening event is free and will be held in the Caylor Auditorium
at GCRL. The veteran photographer will feature photos from his 2003
photographic safaris abroad and in North America. He will answer
questions and sign his books during the reception following his
fee for the all-day workshop is $50 per person, payable to GCRL.
Registration includes a continental breakfast, light lunch and snacks.
Participation is limited to 20. Though the workshop is geared toward
beginners, Ulrich tailors the experience to meet needs for all degrees
will definitely benefit from the workshop, but I always help the
more advanced get something out of it also," Ulrich said. "I
lead many photo trips and always find a wide range of levels."
participants do not need to bring their photographic equipment unless
they need an explanation about some aspect of their equipment.
a brief review of the principles of photography, relationships between
shutter and aperture settings, fundamental elements of composition,
use and timing of fill-in flash, digital versus film photography,
techniques of close-up photography, and a brief discussion of slide
etiquette, the photography business and marketing.
up in South Chicago, graduated with a degree in biology from Southern
Illinois University and taught for four years before launching his
career as a freelance photographer. He has supported himself with
nature photography for the past 29 years.
of more than 300,000 transparencies includes birds and mammals from
all over the world. His photographs have been featured in publications
such as National Wildlife, Audubon, National Geographic, Montana
Outdoors and Life.
He has published
six nature books, including Mammals of the Rockies, Birds of the
Northern Rockies, Once Upon a Frame and his 2002 release, Photo
Pantanal. Dr. William E. Hawkins, GCRL executive director, said
Ulrich brings the scientific and artistic worlds together.
his living photographing wildlife all over the world," Hawkins
sad. "He is an outstanding observer and a biologist. His approach
to photography is to capture his subjects exhibiting their natural
The GCRL is
home to the university's Department of Coastal Sciences, the Center
for Fisheries Research and Development, and the Gulf Coast Geospatial
Center. The J.L. Scott Marine Education Center and Aquarium is also
a unit of the laboratory. The GCRL is part of the Southern Miss
College of Science and Technology. For more information, call the
laboratory at (228) 872-4200.