Politics – The Role of Mass Media

mass mediaThe Internet is one of the greatest tools against censorship. Bloggers can get information out within seconds using either Twitter, Facebook, personal blogs or reporting in little videos that are afterward shared on YouTube.

Social media has changed politics in many ways. Bad words in any small land community can become national television news when someone decides to share an interview through YouTube. Prime Minister Gordon Brown discovered that during the recent elections when he forgot to remove a microphone that afterward showed inappropriate words about an inquisitive lady that asked questions he didn’t like.

It’s both good and bad. Bad for journalists who want to keep copyright to materials they have used, but certainly good for democracy since events can be shared all over the globe without any time delays for media to reach other parts of the world. It is a big challenge for established news media who were used to being the only source people listened to, and now they have to adapt to the fact that we are all journalists in one form or another.

Much more than this, it is also a challenge for each of us because we must become better at selecting between good and bad information. Once something is put in writing it gains acceptance in a new way. People forget their critical thinking once they see something that appears credible – and in that lies a great challenge for politicians also.

The Obama campaign was one of the first Presidential campaigns to include the internet, and many of us still regularly receive updates through Twitter. President Obama knows there is a second campaign to be won also. Therefore his tools are still well-established, and kept functional.

In much the same way, campaign funds will be better used when we realize that we don’t necessarily need to cut lots of trees to get functional campaigns running. Campaigning through the internet is much more friendly towards the environment, and gives a greater effect than what we have ever seen before.

What is truly encouraging about all of this is that as the internet spreads even into dictatorships it will be far more difficult for tyrants to brainwash their people. Unfortunately, however, we have seen that some requests for shutting down the internet have been followed by certain ISPs. One example is China that didn’t want access through Google Gmail to the internet for their people. All such activities will be impossible to dictate as the internet spreads, and the freedom that follows.

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