In 1996, the National Issues Convention (NIC) assembled a national sample of 459 Americans on the campus of the University of Texas at Austin. This diverse group of Americans was seen and heard nationally. They spent three days in small group discussions of major public issues and participated in two live PBS telecasts moderated by Jim Lehrer where they questioned Vice President Al Gore and four contenders for the Republican presidential nomination. This experiment in democracy was an innovative step that engaged the ongoing debate about mass communication and democracy. The Poll With a Human Face details this innovative event, the arguments and logic behind it, the experiences of the delegates and journalists involved in the NIC, and social science research analyzing the news coverage and its effects. This book is both a specific case study of the NIC and a broad scale contribution to the discipline of political communication.

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