Introduction In today’s society, the Electronic Media are increasingly present in our lives. For almost a century, radio, television and now the Internet have been added to the press. It’s therefore necessary to consider the influence, good or bad, of the media on our thinking and us. By Electronic Media, we mean information or data that is created, distributed and accessed using a form of electronics, electromechanical energy or any equipment used in electronic communications.
The common equipment we use on a day to day basis to access Electronic Media is our television, radio, computer, cell phones and other devices transporting information to and from us by means of electronic involvement. Via these devices we are brought closer of politics. Political involvement means to take part in politics. The general level of involvement in a society is the extent to which people as a whole are active in politics. In this commentary piece, we will attempt to answer the following question: Can electronic media enhance political involvement?
In order to answer this question, we are going to divide this essay in 3 parts. In the first place, we will define and analyze the Electronic Media of today. Subsequently, we will show how the Electronic Media enhances the political involvement. Finally, we will list some limitations to the relation between Electronic Media and politics. I- Electronic Media Electronic Media are channels of communication that serve many diverse functions, such as offering a variety of entertainment, communicating news and information or displaying advertising messages.
They are usually referred to as broadcast media, or radio and television, including cable. It concerns any type of device that stores and allows distribution or use of electronic information. After the World War II, personal electronic media started to appear: TV sets, computers and citizen’s band radios emerged in the 1940s, followed by transistorized radios and audiotapes in the 1950s. Finally, desktop and laptop computers, personal fax machines, hand-held camcorders and cellular telephones joined the parade in the 1980s.
During the last decade, every personal medium has grown smaller, more portable and at also more powerful. Some of the advantages of the electronic media, and in particular Internet and modern telecommunications, could be to have changed socialization greatly. We now have many more ways in which to communicate in synchronous time with people at distances. Another advantage to electronic media communication is the anonymity. This can also work to eliminate discrimination. However, the lack of physical connection becomes a disadvantage.
Some people who use their physical presence as a form of communication are handicapped and need to learn new tools. Also, some will say that our lack of physical contact in electronic relationships degrades those relationships to being less than human, since humans require a certain level of physical interaction. In a world influenced by satellite and cyber-space technology, electronic media has a highly significant role to play in shaping the life and destiny of nations. The industries engaged in electronic media are a part of a broad landscape that is changing rapidly, in which the boundaries among businesses are blurring.
We are living in the era of electronic media and none can avoid and escape from it. It is prevailing profound effects on advertisement, education, information, politics and other social activities. II- Electronic media enhance political involvement We notice today that the electronic media age have generated a populist political movement where citizens have better access to the political sphere than before. Nowadays, mass media allow stimulating political interest and activism among the large public.
Common citizens might play an effective role in the political area that has been previously the field of elites. There is more and more political information spread today through a variety of formats. The wide range of available sources allows information to be addressed to a specific audience target, such as people who were under represented before. Cable television, call-in radio forums, and Internet platforms, in particular, permit citizens to have access to information that is relevant to them and to make contact with people who have similar social and political orientations. One of the main features of the electronic media is the interaction that new technologies ease among citizens, media personnel and public officials.
Citizens are not passive recipients anymore but they can make their opinions known and play an observable role in political events. For example, televised news chat programs regularly feature citizen call-ins, news magazines present instantaneous online polls of citizens’ opinions about political events and issues, and average people ask questions of candidates during televised debates.
This involvement has been supported by media publicity and interactive communication forums, which allow people to express their thoughts, get information and understand how to take action. Moreover, with computer networks, the mass public is closer to the decision-makers. Journalists could also publicize citizen opinions in their articles. General public opinion becomes an important resource for news stories. Also, electronic media and social networks have become tools of communication and mobilization of citizens and institutions of society.
They make it possible to strengthen the movement for democracy by creating virtual forums where everyone can express their opinions or show their opposition. The new information technologies are changing the face of the political culture. The Internet and other new communication tools are the foundation of the infrastructure of society in the 21st century. These tools play an essential role in protecting the thoughts around the political speech, especially in countries where the mainstream press are censored. Technology has helped to forge real weapons of communication for democratic debate and citizen action.
The Internet is the preferred tool of organization and communication groups in society that allows them to create an independent state infrastructure and develop the necessary network growth. Also, peer-to-peer (P2P) exchange model allows everyone to spread militant videos. In Tunisia, for example, simple citizens united against corruption have posted videos on You Tube showing that the president’s wife used a plane belonging to the state for shopping in Paris and Milan. III- Limitations However, citizens and leaders have to consider carefully the information delivered by electronic media.
This mass media environment did not always manage to provide to the public quality political information or to support political participation. Indeed, behind political communication, there is profit seeking. Moreover, content of political news has sometimes become entertainment oriented and have lost its informational objective. Otherwise, citizens are not told about how political institutions are functional or efficient, but electronic media have the tendency to highlight political scandals and discords mainly.
The public seems dissatisfied with the electronic media offerings and don’t trust news sources anymore. Citizens sometimes think that news are deeply influenced by powerful businesses and political interests who perform into the media’s wish to make profits. Furthermore, they consider that the press could be intrusive and goes too far in people’s personal lives and intimacy. Finally, the electronic media is still available only to privileged citizens and did not done much to encourage participation into the political life.
Even if the Internet user base is constantly increasing, it’s still not available to some people without resources and skills. In summary, sometimes rather than support people to become politically engaged and involved, the electronic media might alter this involvement. The content and style of some news turn the public off to politics environment. Conclusion In summary, there are some positive points about political knowledge and involvement among segments of the public through electronic media; in particular among those who are present on the Internet and are taking part of interactive forms of media.
However, people from higher economic and educational classes mainly compose the audience. Moreover, this involvement is limited when taking into account manipulations or quality of the news. References: KU Library: The Media and Political Process. Eric Louw The Exploding Political Power of personal Media. Gladys D. Ganley Politics and the Mass media. Mark Wheeler. http://kutr. summon. serialssolutions. com/document/show? id=FETCHMERGED-kutr_catalog_b1542960x1&s. q=electronic+media+politics Internet: