Graduation Date


Document Type

Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Humanities and Cultural Studies

Department or Program Chair

Chase B. Clow, PhD

First Reader

Bradley Van Alstyne, MA


From the moment our First Amendment was adopted, America’s ideal of democracy has been firmly intertwined with media communications between the President and the citizenry. Over time, technological advancements have altered the way this communication is facilitated, increasing the public’s access to the Office of the Presidency, and visa versa, via new forms of media. Through an examination of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s use of the radio, the first televised debate between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon in 1960, and Barack Obama’s use of Social Media and the Internet, this thesis will seek to answer the question of whether the greater access gained from new communication mediums has enhanced American democracy. While any increase in dialogue between the Office of the President and citizens undoubtedly brings us closer to our democratic ideals, it will likewise be demonstrated that each new form of media has been uniquely suited to increase transparency into the political process in ways relevant to the era in which politicians adopted them.