The growth of technology has forever changed the game politics and the way the average citizen actively participates in politics. When my parents were my age if you mentioned Facebook, Twitter, cell phones, or even just the Internet they would have no idea what you were talking about. Now these mediums define political elections and the way political candidates utilize these outlets can make or break their campaigns. As Stephen Coleman from the Oxford Internet Institute puts it,
Politicians used to put out leaflets with pictures of their family and pet dog and copies of their lousy speeches and it would be enough. Unfortunately many politicians now just create a web site with pictures of their family and pet dog and their lousy speeches but it is not good enough.
Politics used to be a much more interpersonal process. Campaigns relied all on the candidate traveling and meeting people because if he did not voters would have no idea who he was. In the digital age that we live in voters can know get to know a candidate by researching them through Google or even watching Youtube videos that candidates post to the site. This also makes it more imperative for candidates to have a squeaky clean image. Any small squabble at any point in their lives can be leaked to the Internet and their political career could be over in a matter of minutes. An example of this is during the 2000 Presidential Election when news of George W. Bush‘s DWI reached the press. Ultimately he was able to overcome this, but for others this proves to be a more difficult task.
Another major change from my politics when my parents were my age to now is the growth of television involvement in politics. Television in politics was brand new when parents were in college and candidates such as John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon were trying to figure out how to manipulate this medium and use it to their advantage. Now candidates almost have to have a strong television presence or they have no chance to be a serious candidate. Voters are looking for a good-looking man who they feel they can “have a beer with.” Back in my parents day if a candidate looked OK in a picture they had a good shot in the election. It is a whole new world now.
Politics have changed from my parents time to mine and I can only imagine what they will be like when I have a child who is my age. Candidates will be worrying about how they look in 3D.
To a certain extent, being involved in politics online leads to being involved in politics in ‘real life’.
In his article “Small Change (social networks)”, Gladwell contemplates that social networking sites, like Facebook, help maintain weaker ties (that is with those people who you have little known sense of who they are) and these sites are less likely to produce social change. He uses the example of the ‘Save Darfur’ Facebook group and proposes that just because you participate online (by ‘liking’ the group or posting a comment) doesn’t mean that it constitutes as a real sacrifice because you are just simply ‘following’ a movement. According to Gladwell political activism only occurs when their is a high risk or sacrifice. He states:
In other words, Facebook activism succeeds not by motivating people to make a real sacrifice but by motivating them to do the things that people do when they are not motivated enough to make a real sacrifice.
Although, people may initially passively participate in this kind of politically action, the ‘Save Darfur’ group also communicates when rallies are being held in the ‘real world’ and encourages people to attend and participate away from the comfort of their own computers. New tools of social media has reorganized social activism in such a way that the once powerless can now collaborate and give voice to their concern. So in this way, online politics can be considered the same as politics in ‘real life’.
In Shirkey’s article, “The Political Power of Social Media”, he proposes that the internet is more than just freedom to access information. People are now interested in more and citizens are now able to produce their own forms of public media. Communication is getting more connected at more levels, therefore, there are more opportunities to make our voices heard.
For example, the protests in Egypt were being powered by social networks, like Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube, and are making information readily available to anyone who searches for it. In response, the government of Egypt has blocked Facebook access from their country. Obviously the effects of online politics are similar, if not the same, as effects of street riots, otherwise the government would not have taken the time and effort to forbid the use of Twitter in their country.
The Egyptian government is attempting to block citizens off from knowledge of other systems in order to protect their own insular government from scrutiny and criticism. This action alone proves that political actions online lead to radical political demonstrations in real life that potentially pose the same threats to the government.
In this new social media age, I think its safe to say that actions that happen online and through social networking, can be considered actions that can happen in real life. Social media has become an integral part of the way people live their daily lives.
I don’t frequent political blogs, as most of them offer pointed, one sided opinions on issues about which I care little. However, there is one vlog that I follow on YouTube that has political leanings, though it isn’t strictly about politics. That vlog is Penn Point.
The vlog is self produced by illusionist and self-proclaimed libertarian Penn Jillette. I follow this vlog for three primary reasons. First, Jillette is funny, and since journalists have taken to covering the news poorly and primarily with emotion (as we discussed in the previous blog), if I’m going to be gathering information from an industry that is widely regarded as a joke in the first place, it might as well be from a guy who gets paid to be funny.
Second, Jillette often states that he is clueless about the nuances of the political topics he covers and that he is speaking from a biased viewpoint, that being a libertarian viewpoint. He urges viewers to look up more information from sources who are more aptly equipped to explain politics, which is, ironically journalists most of the time. I appreciate a man who can admit he doesn’t know it all and urges people to research on their own.
Finally, because I enjoy Jillette’s Showtime smash Bullshit! I find that having him explain things of a political nature automatically sparks skepticism in me concerning what his opinions are and, if I believe what he is saying is off the wall or too libertarian, I will go off and research an issue myself from a different viewpoint. So, Penn Point makes me more active in a subject I have little interest in in the first place, which I think is good.
In addition to this, Jillette offers a libertarian viewpoint on some issues. Though I do not identify as a libertarian, some of his points are interesting and resonate with me and serve as an alternative to the typical “left vs. right” viewpoint on nearly everything. Jillette’s vlog also makes me question some of my own beliefs that don’t allign with this libertarian viewpoint, which is something I welcome and enjoy. Jillette also takes shots at both right wing conservatives and left wing “hippies,” the latter of which is a joy to watch for me. Because most of the political blogs I StumbleUpon are typically written with a self-righteous, left wing slant and most right wing blogs are written by ultra-conservative religious people, having a different viewpoint on politics is refreshing, but most importantly, funny. Jillette’s vlog tends to challenge the status quo in a way that isn’t so much “down with the man” (as I find most liberal leaning blogs are) but in a way that questions (albeit bluntly and often obscenely) the more popular opinions on things like health care and gun control, for instance.
Perhaps most importantly, though, is that Jillette doesn’t take himself too seriously on the whole. Most blogs I StumbleUpon write on issues as though they are making some sort of difference in terms of solving the issue when they’re doing little more than pontificating on a pet cause. While there are situations where Jillette does speak seriously (for example, on free speech or the shooting in Arizona [note, this link is a two parter and has profanity]) which, if I’m intrigued, leads me to research further on the issue at hand, most of the time, Jillette is just a funny guy who spouts off on things that bother him in libertarian terms. And since he states that he’s got a libertarian bias and that people should never take his word for granted, I find him to be more honest than most bloggers out there, which leaves a soft spot in my heart for his vlog.
It’s hard to say whether or not journalist should challenge the leaders in times of crisis and war. I think it definitely depends on the timing. In class we discussed how President Bush waited until September 20th to address the country after the 9/11 attacks. Just as Bush waited to address the nation appropriately, I believe this is how journalist should handle themselves in times of crisis. Immediately following the attacks the press did a good job in supporting what the government officials had to say. The question is did they wait to long after to begin challenging them. In the movie Buying the War, this is exactly what was discussed. I found an interesting article that was published October 17, 2001, which was a little over a month after the 9/11 attacks. There were two main points that I found interesting, that do a good job of summing up the role of journalists at the time.
When National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice asked, rather than demanded, that bin Laden’s statements be more carefully and tightly edited by American networks, she made both the appropriate and the politically savvy choice
The reason that the media believed this to be a politically savvy choice was that Condolezza Rice requested this from the media not demanded it. This is a good point. I believe that if the media and the government officials could work more closely then the critisim the media puts out would sounds less threatening. I do think that the media has some obligation to challenge what the government is putting out there. Many Americans depend solely on the opinions of others on the events going on with our country. If the media is not at all challenging what is being released by the president and his staff, then no one will really think twice about what is going on. The other line from this article that I thought did a good job explaining what happened around 9/11 was as follows:
Writing in the New York Times, columnist Frank Rich has noted that this administration, like any other facing a crisis, has sought strenuously to sell its own version of events while vigorously contesting any criticism.
This I thought was another accurate point. The Presidential staff want to make themselves look the best that they can. They do not want to admit mistakes, nor does anyone else. I think the media has an obligation to point out these mistakes. This allows for citizens to have a better understanding of what is going on. I think as far as war time goes, there does not really need to be a grace period for criticism. War is a very controversial issue so there are going to be many views on the topic. I think it is good for viewers to understand both the pros and cons of going to war. To end here is a video I found about Obama speaking of 9/11. The main point just seems to be that the media nor anyone else should challenge to 9/11 story.
Since the 1968 election campaign, I would say that while there are some similarities, now a days election campaigns are completely different. Television back in the 60’s was a brand new concept. There were presidential candidates who would refuse to engage in debates and other such activities if they were uncomfortable. President Nixon who had failed in the 1960 election against JFK to preform well in the debates, changed the way he would campaign again in 1968. The book, The Selling of the President, discussed how the Nixon campaign was focused on marketing the president as a package, “like Madison Avenue would sell a pack of cigarettes.” This idea brought forth a new way of campaigning. Another issue the book focused on was that Nixon was
In a controlled manner, with film and television techniques, with particular emphasis on pinpointing those controlled use of television medium that can best convey the image we want to get across…
This meaning that everything that Nixon did on television was pre-planned. America never got to preview his “personality.” Also the advertisements back in the 60’s were far different from the ones today. In the late 50’s and early 60’s the advertisement tended to be catchy tunes, that incorporated the presidents name. In 1968 the campaign advertisements were more serious focusing on the issues, as do some presidential advertisements today. The one below is for Nixon. It has a very serious tone, and dramatizes the issues at hand.
Now a days, things are very different in many ways. For one the media has expanded far past television. With the use of the internet and websites such as Twitter, Presidential candidates are under far more scrutiny. What they say online can be spread to millions in a matter of minutes. In the 2008 election the presidential nominees had to be more careful about what they say to different media outlets. If one candidate states there view on one show, and then a week later is on another show preaching the opposite views, it will be published everywhere. Also on websites such as youtube people can merger clips from different ads to make comical ones. I found this clip on youtube of multiple Hilary Clinton ad campaigns combined.
Another difference between the 1968 campaign and today is that we want to see the “whole president.” We want to see a controlled man, we want to see what is behind that. I think a successful aspect to Obama’s campaign was that he advertised being a family man. He always was with his wife and often with his children. This made him relatable to the American Public. The last aspect I wanted to compare was political advertisements. I would say that Presidential candidates still focus on the issue, while also comparing themselves to their opponent. This is the only real difference in advertising. I think that the 1960 and 1968 Presidential campaigns were gateways to what they are today.
Are the media biased? How do you know? Well, to answer your first question, yes and as for the second, BECAUSE I SEE IT (don’t always disagree with it – but I do see it). But trust me I’m not the only one.
There are a few motivators I have found that influence bias – money, benefit, and allegiance. The funny thing about these influences is that they are all simultaneously used in an everyday life that we categorize and accept and this category is exactly where the information industry (television, radio, newspapers, magazines, etc.) fits – as a business. Often times the information we view as news does indeed “pay the bills” or provide some advancement to the brand when reaching the public. Much of this stem from a relationship, whether it be political, personal, or professional, between the subject and the source.
To think that the media is not biased would be ludicrous. For the purposes of Political Communication 4473 (#mc4473 for the Twitter audience) such a thought – simply put – would just be ignorant. Mediated communication is the way we get our political news these days. The reason for this lies in the first word of the previous sentence – mediated. There is and will always be something, or someone, in between the information the public receives. More times than none, when this information is received from sources like FOX News, CNN, MSNBC, ABC or whatever your preference for receiving news might be, one, if not all, of the previously mentioned motivators play a significant part.
Bias Media coverage is one of those things that you know is there and sometimes have accepted for so long that one does not know what to do about it. It has even been around so long that there are those who pick out the smallest of details to make an argument that would otherwise go no where
ALL MEDIA HAS SOME BIAS. Not some, but all have some bias. Some presentations of information all have bias as well. In fact, there is some bias in this entry. Unbiased reporting or gathering is currently a fantasy, especially in the political realm. WE live in America – a country where competition is every day life. If all political reporting was unbiased, when election time comes it might actually force the American people to vote for what is right. Imagine that. Until that time…
It’s a battle, right? Conservatives claim that all news has a liberal bias and liberals claim that the entire News Corporation has a conservative advantage. Rupert Murdoch owns News Corp. Liberals have a point. However.
The entire problem with the debate of media bias is the assumption that there is such a thing as pure objectivity anyway. Is there really such a thing–especially in the realm of news media? The very nature of writing is that there is some form of subjectivity that will leak through. Even in research–take political science research–doesn’t the very fact that an interviewer is human bias the questions asked? Interview bias, in other words, exists simply because the interviewer (usually) is human. Humans, by the very nature of being humans, are biased toward selecting certain questions and seeking for certain answers unconsciously.
So why (how) do we expect journalists (or other media-related affiliates) to remain completely unbiased? Or, for that matter, what does bias mean? As far as I can tell (to the average viewer) (of a certain political affiliation), anything is “biased” so long as what is being discussed is of the other political ideology. If Fox News talks about Sarah Palin’s positive policies, then it’s bias. If MSNBC lauds Barack Obama for his stance on health care, then it’s bias. Never mind the fact that maybe–maybe— (unlikely, but maybe) Sarah Palin did have positive policies or maybe Barack Obama did have an extremely effect stance on health care. Doesn’t the very fact, then, that you–the viewer–have bias and that you–the viewer–watch news segments and consume media through a specific frame (political or otherwise)–doesn’t that fact automatically lead to a perceived bias?
The point here is not so much that media sources are biased or unbiased, but, mostly, that media sources are most likely always going to be inherently biased–even a little bit–and if not, a bias will be perceived anyway, so what difference does it really make?
A few years ago, during a Politics & the Media class, I conducted a (rather crude) (but still mostly accurate) (well, it took a lot of time and effort, anyway) study of Al-Jazeera. Often claimed to be an extremely biased news source (who decided this anyway?) (probably Fox News) (hey, I never said blogs weren’t biased, isn’t that my entire thesis here?), I was curious as to see whether or not Al-Jazeera did carry an anti-American bias. My study followed the front page of Al-Jazeera’s website for a month to see mentions of the United States and using a tailored scale, measuring whether or not the mentions of the United States were negative or not. Study errors notwithstanding, my correlation statistics were rather unremarkable.
In short, if there was an anti-American bias in Al-Jazeera, then it was negligible at best.
But wait! Does that mean that there is or there isn’t media bias? Here’s the thing, Bugs, of course there’s media bias. In my opinion, it’s the very nature of humans and of media in general to be biased. (Who wants objectivity anyway?) (If we really wanted objectivity, we’d try to read textbooks.) (How many of you actually read your textbooks, let’s be honest here.) (For other classes, of course. Not for this one.) (The textbooks for this particular class are absolutely enthralling, in my opinion.) The point, then, is that media bias is really very negligible, in the long run.
Sometimes, of course, Fox News does things like this:
And then, of course, MSNBC does something like this:
But don’t the viewers of Fox News and the viewers of MSNBC already know what kind of media they’re looking for? I know very rare a Democrat who listens to Fox News for purposes other than sheer mockery and I knew very few a Republican who even bother flicking past MSNBC for fear that the liberal bias might, somehow, leech onto their skins.
So then, in the end, isn’t it the viewers themselves who create and consume media bias?
And, for that matter, shouldn’t we (the viewers) be intelligent enough to sort through the Bill O’Reillys, Chris Mathews, Glenn Becks, and Jon Stewarts of the world to form our own conclusions? If Fox News says jump, please, for the love of America, at least ask from what bridge?
Come on world, let’s use our brains a little. xoxo!