Erika Franklin Fowler

Associate Professor of Government and Wesleyan Media Project Co-Director, Wesleyan University

About Erika

Fowler’s research centers on questions of communication, political discourse and citizen learning in elections and in the health policy context. In particular, she analyzes the factors that shape media messages in both advertisements and in news coverage and what the influence of such messages are on public opinion, knowledge and ultimately behavior. Fowler also co-directs the Wesleyan Media Project, which tracks all political advertising aired on broadcast television in real-time during elections, and her work with the Project has been cited extensively in national media. She also serves on ABC’s Election Night Decision Desk.


The Harm Done by Media Coverage of Political Disputes about Public Health Measures

    Sarah Elizabeth Gollust

In the News

Erika Franklin Fowler quoted on midterm ads by Craig Gilbert, "Donald Trump Once Divided Republicans; Ads for Midterms Signal That's No Longer True" WFMY News, May 17, 2018.
"News Coverage of Vaccine Controversies Drives down Support for Vaccines," Erika Franklin Fowler (with Sarah Elizabeth Gollust), The Washington Post, February 9, 2015.
Guest to discuss private money in politics on NPR's Morning Edition, Erika Franklin Fowler, October 20, 2014.
Guest to discuss the 2012 election on The Colin McEnroe Show, Erika Franklin Fowler, November 7, 2012.
Guest to discuss issue advertising in the 2012 campaign on PBS Frontline: Big Sky, Big Money, Erika Franklin Fowler, October 30, 2012.
Erika Franklin Fowler quoted on election campaign spending by Michael Crowley, "Ad Nauseam: Romney and Obama are Spending More Money to Woo Fewer Voters than at Any Time in Memory. Will It Make a Difference?" Time Magazine, September 24, 2012.
Erika Franklin Fowler quoted on Romney’s campaign budget by Jeremy W. Peters and Nicholas Confessore, "Romney Campaign Cautious with Ad Budget, Even in Key States" New York Times, September 19, 2012.
Erika Franklin Fowler quoted on Obama’s ad campaign by Peter Overby, "Obama’s Post-Charlotte Bounce May Owe More to TV Ads than Convention" NPR, September 12, 2012.
Erika Franklin Fowler quoted on outside group spending by Abby Phillip, "Study: Outside Ad Spending up 1,600%" Politico, January 30, 2012.
Guest to discuss SuperPAC advertisements in the 2012 elections on NPR: All Things Considered, Erika Franklin Fowler, January 30, 2012.


"First Impressions: Geographic Variation in Media Messages During the First Phase of ACA Implementation" (with Sarah Gollust, Colleen L. Barry, Jeff Niederdeppe, and Laura Baum). Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law 39, no. 6 (forthcoming): 1253-1262.
Presents the results of a comprehensive content analysis of local televised media (news and advertisements) during the first phase of Affordable Care Act implementation.
"Sponsorship, Disclosure, and Donors: Limiting the Impact of Outside Group Ads" (with Travis N. Ridout and Michael M. Franz). Political Research Quarterly (forthcoming).
Examines the influence of unknown group advertising relative to candidate advertising and how donor disclosure in the ad and in news coverage affects the ad’s impact.
"The Content and Effect of Politicized Health Controversies" (with Sarah E. Gollust). The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 658, no. 1 (2015): 155-171.
Describes the implications of two public health cases for which significant political controversy has emerged in recent years: mammography screening and the HPV vaccine
"Political Advertising in 2014: The Year of the Outside Group" (with Travis N. Ridout). The Forum 12, no. 4 (2014): 663-684.
Examines 2014 trends in broadcast television advertising volume, content and sponsorship.
"Issue Emergence, Evolution of Controversy, and Implications for Competitive Framing: The Case of the HPV Vaccine" (with Sarah E. Gollust, Amanda F. Demsey, Paula M. Lantz, and Peter A. Ubel). The International Journal of Press/Politics 17, no. 2 (2012): 169-189.
Traces the media discussion of legislative debates across the 50 states over whether or not to mandate the HPV vaccine as a requirement for middle school-aged girls.
"Local Television and Newspaper Coverage of Advertising" (with Travis N. Ridout). Political Communication 26, no. 2 (2009): 119-136.
Examines the prevalence and tone of advertising coverage in local TV news and local newspapers relative to the actual tone and volume of advertising aired in local markets.