17 de outubro de 2008

Internet Media and the Changing Face of Campaigning

Politics 2.0 - Parte 1

Electronic media in the 21st century is a political double-edged sword: it has enabled politicians to reach out to constituents like never before while also subjecting candidates to unprecedented levels of scrutiny. Websites such as Facebook and Myspace now allow anyone to organize grassroots support and augment traditional modes of campaigning and fundraising, while blogs and Youtube have expanded the power of media with their ability to showcase breaking stories and videos almost instantaneously. While the prevalence of user-generated journalism may reveal disconcerting truths about the relationship between media and politics, it certainly affords an array of opportunities for candidates to connect with voters and foster dialogue with supporters, and it will reward candidates who are able to effectively harness the Internet’s resources while avoiding its numerous pitfalls.

Connecting Candidates With Voters

Political blogs, fundraising websites, YouTube, and social networking portals have undoubtedly altered the structure and style of campaigns. No politician exhibits successful usage of this new media better than Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.). His website, BarackObama.com, has recorded nearly 1.5 million individual donors since the start of his campaign, translating into massive grassroots support and fundraising. Morley Winograd and Michael Hais, authors of Millennial Makeover: MySpace, YouTube, and the Future of American Politics, told the HPR that “Sen. Obama’s use of Internet-based media that allow his supporters to self-organize reinforces his message of empowerment and change in a more powerful way” than Sen. Clinton’s (D-NY) traditional broadcast media approach. Before this era of e-communication, it was nearly impossible to reach the millions of Americans who did not read newspapers, watch TV news, or listen to the radio. The Internet has become a new lifeline for political communication, and it has surprisingly been utilized most by individuals who are less inclined to vote, namely the Millennial Generation.
In an interview with the HPR, Jeffrey Fontas, a 21-year-old New Hampshire State Representative, related his experiences with this new style of campaign. “Building an organization of peers on Facebook allowed me to combine traditional campaign methods with new media and succeed in unifying my constituents,” he remarked. Social networking sites have allowed politicians to establish contact networks both within their districts and across the country; thousands of political groups on Facebook render the site’s 69 million members only a click away from activism.

Escrito por :
Brad Paraszczak, em 1 de Agosto de 2008.
The Harvard Political Review