What issue(s) do you care most about when considering candidates for election? How do you know where the candidates stand on those issues? Where do you gain information about the issues you care about and the candidates' positions on those issues?Since the invention of mass media technologies--beginning with the printing press and continuing with electronic and digital devices--citizens have had increasing access to information about the world around them, including the issues about which they cared most. In the past two centuries—and even more specifically during the last half a century—mass media have become the primary lens through which we access this critical information.
Even a quick glimpse of history shows the role of the screen in the campaigning and election process—beginning with the 1960’s first televised debate between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon.
As technology evolved, it gave us a clearer view of the candidates and the election process. But as the number of screens expanded, some may say the clarity was countered by an increase in confusion because of the multiplying sources of information.
The realities of this year’s presidential election are even more significant than previous ones. With more screens and more information than ever before, media and information literacy has never been more important.
In the next few minutes, I’d like for us to consider the role of media—and more specifically social media—in our search for truth in politics.
The Pew Internet & American Life Project—a division of Pew Research, the bipartisan fact-tank based in the Washington, D.C., area—found that more than a quarter of registered voters are using their smallest screen—their mobile phone--to get campaign news, share their views about the candidates and interact with others about political issues.
Conceptualized in 1947 by Kurt Lewin, Gatekeeping theory originally described the power of media to control the information that delivered to readers, listeners and viewers. That theory today has been further expanded to describe and explain the flow of content in the digital world. Shoemaker and Johnson in 2009 defined gatekeeping as…
Traditional media continues to exist, but has been augmented by new technologies.
In just the past decade, we’ve witnessed an explosion of new media channels—that are radically different from the traditional outlets.
And these new media have been labeled “social media,” which is currently best defined by Wikipedia as…
Extending the concept of gatekeeping, the new gatekeeper is you. Time magazine—a traditional media outlet which for decades has identified the most influential person (or thing)—named YOU the person of the year in 2006.
And the influence extends into every dimension of society—from the personal to the professional, from our purchasing to our producing. Pew Internet reported that…
We have seen it happen globally in just the past year with the Occupy movement and global uprising, the Arab Spring, etc. This year’s election is a prime example of how citizens have become participants in the dialogue surrounding the election. No longer are citizens just consuming information, they are producing it.