How do politicians and/or citizens use digital technologies to engage in politics in a post-broadcast democracy? Drawing connections between politics and journalism within this online engagement

The nature of politics is changing, and this is in large part due to a “post-broadcast democracy”. Wilson’s describe this as  the “…proliferation of media technologies , media channels and viewing contexts…which has led to a high degree of fragmentation and unpredictability in media audiences.” (Wilson, 2013, pp. 2) What this means is that they way news is presented and that the way it is being shared is no longer a scheduled, straightforward affair. The rise of digital technologies and social networking sites has meant that politicians who jump aboard this changing communicative landscape will have a much better advantage than their rivals.

Consider the example of Barack Obama and his 2008 and 2012 Presidential elections. Many people (BrandonLefkow, Lewin and Rogers) have drawn attention to the fact that Obama’s 2008 political campaign did what many other American political campaigns had not: he actually embraced social media and engaged with a wide range of online communicative channels, dominating his rivals on Facebook, MySpace, YouTube and Twitter. In doing all this, he drew in huge public support from online communities: one example, his 1, 120, 565 Facebook supporters compared to  Clinton’s 158, 970 and McCain’s 119,000. (Castells, 2013, pp. 372) As Catells notes, Obama’s deep engagement with people on online platforms meant that, “not only did new citizens register and vote, but they  became actively engaged in the campaign.” (Castells, 2013, pp. 372) Obama, realising much more clearly than his opponents about what the digital realm could mean in terms of getting one’s message across, actually inspired otherwise disinterested citizens to help campaign for him. This occurred again when Obama trumped Mitt Romney in  the 2012 Presidential election. It’s no real surprise though considering that Obama spent ten times as much as Romney did on Internet media.   
All this is interesting, yet not altogether surprising, when you consider that the man who was the mastermind behind Obama’s great venture into online mediums was Chris Hughes, a co-founder of Facebook

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Obama’s “Hope” poster, created by Shepard Fairey, was incredibly successful for Obama’s 2008 election campaign and received much circulation online 

This changing political landscape has also greatly altered the way in which journalists report on politics. Wilson discusses this in relation to the political career of Kevin Rudd and his celebritization at the hands of the media. As he notes, “Kevin Rudd’s political ascendancy moved celebrity personae and celebrity media closer to the central  terrain of Australian politics. This tended to diminish the authority of political journalists, and presented a direct challenge to the power of bureaucrats and activists in the Australian Labor Party (ALP).” (Wilson, 2013, pp. 1) He argues that Rudd’s successful political venture onto the show Sunrise helped to cement a political career and character portrayal that was bale to “…reach out to a ‘general’ audience who were uninterested in politics as it was presented in elite political media.” (Wilson, 2013, pp. 7) Kevin Rudd’s frequent use of social media only furthered this close connection to voters, and by using platforms like Twitter and Instagram, he posted  informal material that gave people the impression that he was just like them, avoiding the common pitfall of a deep disconnect between politicians and citizens. Some good examples during the recent election campaign: Rudd and his Instagram post of his shave cut, and a Reddit AMA (Ask-Me-Anything) he started.

In this “post-broadcast democracy”, dominated by figures like Barack Obama and Kevin Rudd, Greg Jericho provides some sound advice for journalists: “A tweet by a politician is an easy story to find; it’s like a quote being provided without even having to ask for it. Such quotes, however, aren’t what senior journalists should be chasing…” (Jericho, 2012, pp. 262)

References: 

-Castells, M, 2013, Communication Power pp. 372, Oxford University Press, Oxford

-Jericho, G, 2012, The Rise of the Fifth Estate: social media and blogging in Australian politics pp. 262, Scribe Publications, Brunswick, Victoria

-Wilson, J, 2013, Kevin Rudd, celebrity and audience democracy in Australia pp. 1-2, 7, article obtained from the website Sage Journals under the Journalism category, Swinburne University of Technology, Australia

Hyperlinks (in order of appearance): 

-Brandon, J, 2008, Barack Obama win Web 2.o race, online article created 19th of August, 2008, Computerworld, last accessed 14/11/13, <http://blogs.computerworld.com/president&gt;

-Lefkow, C, 2011, Obama turns to social media again for 2012 bid, online article created 5th of April, 2011, The Sydney Morning Herald, last accessed 14/11/13, <http://news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-technology/obama-turns-to-social-media-again-for-2012-bid-20110405-1cyyx.html&gt;

-Lewin, J, 2008, Is Social Media Behind Barack Obama’s Success?, online article created 6th of June, 2008, New Media Update, last accessed 14/11/13, <http://www.podcastingnews.com/content/2008/06/is-social-media-behind-barack-obamas-success/&gt;

-Rogers, K, 2012, Obama bests Romney in the social media campaign, research shows, online article created 16th of August, 2012, The Guardian, last accessed 14/11/13, <http://www.theguardian.com/media/2012/aug/15/obama-bests-romney-when-it-comes-to-social-media&gt;

-Rutledge, Dr. P, 2013, How Obama Won the Social Media Battle in the 2012 Presidential Campaign, online article created 15 of January, 2013, The Media psychology Blog, last accessd 14/11/13, <http://mprcenter.org/blog/2013/01/25/how-obama-won-the-social-media-battle-in-the-2012-presidential-campaign/&gt;

-McGirt, E, 2009, How Chris Hughes Helped Launch Facebook And The Barack Obama Campaign, online article created 1st of April, 2009, Fast Company, last accessed 14/11/13, <http://www.fastcompany.com/1207594/how-chris-hughes-helped-launch-facebook-and-barack-obama-campaign&gt;

-Hudson, P, 2013, Kevin Rudd posts picture of shaving mishap on Twitter, online article created 10th of July, 2013, Herald Sun, last accessed 14/11/13, <http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/victoria/kevin-rudd-posts-picture-of-shaving-mishap-on-twitter/story-fni0fit3-1226677342900&gt;

-PMKevinRudd, 2013, I am Kevin Rudd, the Prime Minister of Australia. AMA!, reddit, bulletin board post last accessed 14/11/14, <http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/1lbe0s/i_am_kevin_rudd_the_prime_minister_of_australia/&gt;

Image:

-Obama “Hope” Poster: http://dicontisphotoshopclass.blogspot.com.au/2007/10/recreating-obama-poster_23.html 

Words (not including in-text references): 588

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