The New Political Media

Thursday, March 21, 2013
posted by elizabeth @ 4:25 PM

You hear it from both sides during campaign season: “Reporters love Candidate X” or “the media is not telling the whole story.” But a quickly emerging trend in politics now is that the candidates, campaigns, and elected officials have started finding ways to get their message out without the need of it going through the traditional media.

Politico had an interesting piece on how President Obama’s team has mastered the skill of bypassing the White House Press Corps and has succeeded in pushing the message they want out to the public on their own. A new Pew Research Poll shows that in the 2012 elections, only about a quarter of the statements in the media about the character and records of the candidates originated from journalists, but twice that many came from political partisans.

Once you combine Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and web videos, campaigns are able to sell the message they want without having to funnel it through reporters, who would (theoretically) double check their facts and ask the follow-up questions before it went to the public. Now, it goes directly to the masses, without that filter to double check facts or statements. This is what has given rise to the popularity of websites such as Politifact, which check statements made by candidates and officeholders in order to gauge their level of accuracy.

By adding this self-generated content to the money being poured into mail pieces and media buys, more and more voters are developing their opinions directly from the campaigns as opposed to journalists and the news. Although journalists and the news organizations are not completely innocent in this, due to the fact that a number of people turned away from them awhile ago, feeling that they leaned (or in some cases fell over) to one side or another.

Is this a good thing? Depends on who you ask. It does allow candidates to get their ideas out there without the media putting their own spin on it. But at the same time, it is being left up to each voter to decide whether to accept everything they hear at face value, or if they need to do some work to make sure what they are being sold is factually correct.

That is where we should be worried.

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