ERIC Number: ED437701
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1999-Nov
Let's Put "Debate" into "Presidential Debates."
Benoit, William L.
Presidential debates come in all shapes and sizes. The presence and length of opening statements and closing remarks, the opportunity and length of rebuttal, the nature of the questioner, and other factors have created a bewildering variety of formats. However, most scholars agree that these confrontations are not "really" debates but merely "joint press conferences." This observation raises the question of whether presidential debates should be more like "real" debates. The paper proposes six modifications in political debates based on four important principles (campaign discourse should inform voters; it should address topics that matter to voters; it should encourage candidates to distinguish themselves from competitors; and campaign discourse should facilitate "cost-benefit" analysis by voters by emphasizing "clash"). These improvements are designed to improve the ability of this important form of communication to better inform voters. (Contains 19 references.) (Author/RS)
Descriptors: Debate, Debate Format, Higher Education, Presidential Campaigns (United States)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the National Communication Association (85th, Chicago IL, November 4-7, 1999).