Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Internet President? SUMMER PROJECT POST

Those of you who know me know how interested I am in popular media’s influence on society, and you’ll be seeing me post articles related to communication and media over the next few months. This is my second summer project post and deals with media and communication in a slightly different way than the first.

In the June issue of The Atlantic Monthly, Marc Ambinder discusses Barack Obama’s use of the Internet as a campaign tool, and speculates about how he will use it if elected president. Another interesting aspect of this article deals with the way communication media have changed and how successful presidential candidates have used new (and sometimes controversial) media to their advantage.

Read the article at http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200806/ambinder-obama and consider the following:

This is the first election in which candidates have had a consistent web campaign (via MySpace, Facebook, speeches on YouTube, etc.); you may even want to view the candidates’ pages in order to really think about this issue. How do you think this change in media has affected voter demographics, perception of the candidates, and campaign tactics?

Does the medium in which a candidate communicates affect your perception of that candidate? Is, as Neil Postman asserts, the medium the message? Is the method of communication just as or more important as what is being said?

What are your thoughts about what a President might do with the Internet once in office? What changes might we see based on these changes in communication media?

Disclaimer: I do not mean for this post to provoke partisan political discussion. Let’s focus on the way candidates are using media to communicate.

18 comments:

Ms. Stotler said...

Ah, Ms. Morris, you are a woman after a Government teachers own heart... :-)

Sabrina said...

I think it semi-affects people. Some people might think "He has a myspace, he must be awesome!" Other SMART people arn't really affected by this. I personally don't think the medium is the message. Now on the internet the CAN change things (which is dumb). I don't think looking at candidates over the internet is the BEST thing, but some people are naive.

Ms. Stotler said...

I'm curious, Sabrina, WHY you feel that looking at candidates over the internet makes those who do so naive.

Sandy said...

I kind of disagree with Sabrina (sorry). I think that Obama uses the internet to his advantage, but I think it also helps his potential voters keep up with him. We all know that the internet is the new way to communicate. Obama's fans are younger people, so he has to adjust to his voters to appeal to them. I don't think that Obama is doing anything wrong. His plans for using the internet to keep the American people well informed if he gets voted in is ideal. I know that I would much rather read and be able to respond to something on the internet than have to watch it on TV and not be able to give any feedback that way. Obama is trying to incorproiate his potential voters into the future of America.

Ms. Morris said...

Interesting, point, Sandy. The Internet has the capability of being interactive--one can respond to others' ideas and thinking--while TV is passive. How does this affect meaning, do you think? And Sabrina--it sounds as if you feel the Internet presents a "dumbed-down" version of the issues. Why? How does this affect communication?

Emily. said...

I think that Obama's a genius. Sabrina, people are naive no matter where the information incomes from. Obama knows young people would get more enthused about voting if a canidate reached out to their generation. Their generation being interpeted as: computers, internet sites, cell phones, youtube videos. And if Barack chooses to inform his supporters via internet, then there is no difference than if it's via television. People believe what they want to, no matter how big the screen their staring at is.

MaddyMAe0915 said...

I believe - not only as a supporter of Obama, but a livid user of the internet - that Obama is using the internet to his advantage (like Sandy said). He is simply using the internet to reach out to the younger generation of voters. Like the article said,"... it’s worth noting that some of the best-known presidents in U.S. history have stood at the vanguard of past communications revolutions—and that a few have used those revolutions not only to mobilize voters and reach the White House but also to consolidate power and change the direction of politics once they got there." He is using resources to gain votes, and there's nothing wrong with that. Just like Andrew Jackson and the printing press, Franklin D. Roosevelt and the radio, and John F. Kennedy with the first televised presidential debate in U.S. history. Since Obama is reaching out to the youngest generation of voters, using the internet is the way to do it. Does McCain even know what myspace is? It is a very smart move on Obama's part. He does what he needs to get attention and votes. Thats what campaigning is all about.

Also, it is one's choice to get information from the internet, listen to the radio, or watch the television about the election and to form opinions based on those sources. Who is to say that one is more reliable than the other? No one is naive and should not be labeled stupid or smart because of how they gain information. Such accusations are not necessary and if they are made, should be supported. Thats all I have to say.

Rickli said...

I have to agree with Sandy. Any time a political candidate can take an advantage, over an opposing candidate they probably will. Most of Obama's supports are younger, and a lot of younger people use the Internet to communicate (not that older people don't, its just younger people use it more) so I think that it is perfrctly fine for Obama to campaign on the Internet. Its all about gaining the upper hand in the political race, and that means expressing the issuses on the Internet.

Ms. Stotler said...

In answer to Maddy's question about whether John McCain has a Myspace page, both McCain and Obama have MySpace and Facebook pages. Check them out!

MaddyMAe0915 said...

Personally... I haven't gone through myspace and facebook to look at candidates. But why is the article pointed towards Obama when McCain has a myspace, facebook, and things on the internet, too?

Ms. Morris said...

What an exciting conversation: I can't wait until we are having these discussions in real time and space!

You guys are bringing up really interesting points about these ideas and about the article itself.Why does it address Obama and not McCain? What does this tell us about the author's intended purpose and audience?

Emily, I was thinking about what you said about there being no difference between media, but it seems like the author of this article wants to argue that there is a difference. What was really interesting to me about this article is in this quote: "His speeches play well on YouTube, which allows for more than the five-second sound bites that have characterized the television era." Could this trigger the end of sound byte politics? What might that mean?

Mary said...

I think that using tools such as Facebook and YouTube is a very smart thing for presidential candidates to do, especially in this day and age. Ten years ago, when Facebook and YouTube weren't around, it would not have been a very smart investment of time. But now, a very, very large number of high school and college student have Facebook pages and watch videos on YouTube as often as they watch TV. In reality, most college students check and update Facebook way more than they pick up the Washington Post or turn on MSNBC to get the latest in election coverage. So being connected to that age group by creating pages on social networking sites is extremely smart. Seeing that these candidates have Facebook and Myspace pages might make our generation feel like they are important to the outcome of this race, and that their vote counts. It could make them feel like the candidates are willing to listen to them. One examples that kind of parallels this is the fact that Mrs. Stotler has a Facebook and is willing to interact with us, answer questions about assignments. There is not that wall between teacher and student...now there is a common ground that connects us, which is why I think that young voters will respond well to this strategy.

Also, putting speeches on YouTube is smart because it allows people (of all ages) who are interested but maybe missed the televised version of the speech to see it, analyze it, and decide for themselves who they want to be the next president of our country.

Ms. Stotler said...

Gee, Mary, does that mean you liked it when I sent you guys AP World History assignments when we had snow days this past winter? ;-)

Alissa DuVall said...

The use of the internet is definitely a smart campaign tactic. Many people do not take the time to sit down and watch the news, I know I don’t. But if they can get online and watch things on youtube or read things on facebook, they can do it quickly and whenever it is most convenient for them. Also by using the internet, Obama can connect to a wider range of voters. When we feel informed we have more trust in our leaders. That is proven through history with FDR and his fireside chats. He made the people feel that he was being truthful and open with them; and therefore, he was a well liked President. Using the Internet as a campaign tool shows that Obama recognizes how communications has shifted, especially in the lives of high school and college students. Targeting high school and college students makes it seem like he cares about the upcoming generation and what we think. If Obama is elected, using the internet throughout his Presidency could be very beneficial in seeing where the public stands on the issues.

holly said...

I agree with Emily and Sandy. If I were a candidate, I'd take advantage of all I could. It's good that Obama is communicating by using the internet. Not many people are big fans of tvs; not many people are fans of the internet either. Its great that he uses the tv and internet to reach out to his fans. I also have the same question as Maddy. What about Mccain? Maybe its just a Obama hater.

Jessica Meyers said...

I agree with Sandy, Maddy, & Mary. Like Sandy said, I would much rather be able to get online and read about what is going on than watch it on TV. The internet is an important tool for people our age, and like Sandy said, a great amount of Obama's followers are younger. He is definitely using the internet to his advantage, but why shouldn't he? I don't know of many people who don't have computers nowadays and the use of the internet is essential for people our ages. What is being said is much more important than the way in which it is being passed along, but using the internet is a more efficient and effective way to spread the word.
Anybody who wants to make an impact on the younger generation would be smart to use the internet. I don't sit down and watch the news regularly but I'm probably on the computer at least 1/2 hour everyday for various reasons. Using YouTube, Myspace, and Facebook is a great way to reach lots of different people. I hope that if Obama wins, he continues to use the internet as much as he is for campaigning right now. Also, like Ms. Morris said to Sandy, the internet allows others to communicate and respond to others ideas, just like this blog. For all those apathetic people in the world who love to join the bandwagon, seeing how others respond to Obama can be a positive thing in his favor.

Mariah Ryan said...

I agree with Sandy and Maddy; using the internet to look up candidates isn't going to make you naive. It is to their (Obama and McCain) own advantage and I believe keeps the younger generation up to date. I don't watch the news nearly as much as I should, so looking up their myspace/facebook to see what their doing is helpful, and it keeps me interested. The internet also allows us to have a voice. We can respond to things they're saying. I believe that the candidates are trying to not only gain popularity from the younger generation, but to actually get us interested in politics. It certainly has worked on me to say the least. I don't believe that Sabrina saying "Other SMART people aren't affected by this" isn't fair. Its a personal choice when it comes down to it, and whether you want to watch news or look up a speech on youtube doesn't mean any less of inteligence.

Sandy said...

nicely said Mariah!!!