Controversy versus Clarity: Causes for Concern
The Internet’s impact on electoral politics has not been unambiguously positive, however. Within the blogosphere, information spreads so fast as to leave no time for reflection—even fact checking is often thrown out the window. This has been especially evident in this year’s Democratic presidential campaign, as observers encounter new stories every day on various blogging sites, some more questionable than others. Guilt by association seems to be the most popular tagline. “It’s not the thoughtful speech that the candidate gave; but rather their mistakes,” said James Kotecki, host of Politico.com’s Playbook TV, a popular video blog site. Video clips have begun to serve as judge, jury, and executioner for candidates. YouTube plays the leading role in this arena given that most political “controversies” have been broken via video upload.
Furthermore, since controversy generates attention and revenue, seemingly controversial issues have received disproportionate attention online while crowding out more substantive discussion. Both old and new media outlets beat to death issues surrounding remarks by Obama’s pastor and misstatements by Clinton about Bosnia while allowing policy discussions to fall by the wayside. Many believe that elections have all too often been won based on perceptions rather than on the merits of policy proposals, and the actions of the new media have done little to put this image to rest.
Meet the New Boss?
Until the media grew into a role as guarantor of accountability, party bosses controlled the process of vetting candidates for public office. In yet another evolution of the media, it seems that anyone can now vet a candidate, and that may very well be the scary lesson politicians must learn in order to compete in today’s political game. They must extensively scrutinize their campaigns, making sure every word is kept in context and every action remains appropriate for its inevitable destination, the 30-second YouTube clip. While traditional methods of campaigning may remain as important in the future as they are now, time will show that political success comes to those who effectively complement tradition with a strong understanding of how to succeed in the world of new media.
Escrito por :
Brad Paraszczak, em 1 de Agosto de 2008.
The Harvard Political Review