TheFunction and the Potential of the Internet
Massmedia is a system for delivering messages and symbols to the people.It serves various purposes including entertainment, amusement,educating, informing, and equipping the target populace with beliefs,values, and codes of conduct that will incorporate them into theinstitutional systems of the larger society (Herman and Chomsky N.D).In particular, media use in perpetrating political agenda is a matterof concern over the years. Media acts as a tool through which leadersinfluence their followers towards a given ideology, which theybelieve is the best. The emergency of the internet has greatlyimpacted the influence of the media and democracy. The internet hasimpacted the social, political and economic dimensions of human life.The major components of internet as a media include social media,news websites, and blogs. The impact of these media is felt acrossthe globe and has resulted to major changes in the world of today.Ultimately, the internet has influenced democracy in a significantway.
Internetand Political Awareness
Democracycontributes hugely to a broader awareness of political arguments.Today, many Americans rely on the internet for information regardingpolitical arguments. During political campaigns, the internet servesas a major source of information. According to a study conducted byPew Research Center for The People and the Press, more than 40percent of people rely on the internet for political materials duringcampaigns. This number has shot by more than half since the beginningof the millennium (Horrigan, Garrett and Resnick, N.P).
TheInternet and Propagation of Policies
Theinternet as a media breaks the limits that other media have. Itprovides a platform in which people express their opinions in a moreopen manner and are able to discuss them with other individualsunlike in other media. For example, people use the internet expressestheir views on political leadership as well as social issues. Theformer United States president George Bush was used media to advancehis ideologies on various matters. The internet has helped bring intolime light the dealings that were executed by his government. AsBarstow and Stein (N.P) indicate, there is a thin line between publicrelations and journalism. The news segments that were ran duringBush’s reign were programmed by government officials in order topromote public relations.
Mediaand Political Affiliation
Themedia also influences people’s position on certain issuesespecially the political related ones. In a study conducted toestablish which news media people were affiliated to, it was clearthat media preference is aligned along political ideologies (Iyengarand Morin N.P). Republicans were hugely attracted to Fox news whiledemocrats were affiliated to CNN or NPR. It also emerged that, BBC asa foreign and an independent media was trusted by both parties. Thisshows that the internet as a media has been able to divide people onpolitical lines. People are also likely to trust news which isaffiliated to their political beliefs. Iyengar and Morin (N.P) arguethat, the importance of source labels to news consumption willcontinue to change as technology grows and consumers ever morecustomize their online news menu. With this trend, there will be alikelihood that news will not serve as social glue, that binds allAmericans but instead the same lines that split voters will alsosplit news audiences. Sunstein (N.D) notes that, technology growthhas increased people’s ability to choose what they want to read,hear or see. It therefore means that people can determine what theywant to believe as well.
Theinternet has the potential to instill or propagate ideas that are notdesired by the authorities. People and especially critics have usedthe internet to criticize the actions of their governments or anydecisions affecting the public. The United States declaration on waron terrorism has for instance attracted heavy criticism from bothproponents and opponents. The 9/11 attack o the U.S was definitely aturning point the country and the world as a whole. President Bushtook stern measures to ensure that citizens were protected fromfuture attacks. Critics have called the declaration of war on terroras unnecessary. They argue that the war on terror is a loop hole thatthe U.S government is using to portray its power to the world. Thisnotion as depicted by Sontag (N.P) appears to instill doubt in theminds of American citizens as well as the global society. Sometreaties that countries sign or commit to limit the rights of thesecountries. It jeopardizes the very essence of fighting terror andworsens public relations between the state and the people. The ideathat the government pays for some news to be aired or participates inengineering some news segment has largely damaged public view on thegovernment. On the other hand, opposition has leveraged on thefreedom offered by the internet to criticize and keep the governmenton check. For example, the No Child Left Behind initiative by theClinton government was marred in controversy after it emerged thatthe Education Department had paid some huge amounts of cash to acolumnist to promote the initiative.
Theinternet has also been used to question critical decisions that someof great leaders have taken in the past and even in the present.Whereas the United States was founded on democracy, the very same hasbeen under attack from critics. Great speeches like from AbrahamLincoln have often been criticized as not having a true reflection oftheir intentions. The undermining or criticism that decisions oractions of leaders face, make it impossible to deliver their promisesto the populace.
Internetand Freedom of Speech
Theuse of the internet as a source for news is also marred withpropaganda and lies meant to advance certain political ideologies.Bloggers have taken to the internet to create arguments of variousissues. The blogs offer people a chance to make their arguments fromany corner of the world without being questioned by authorities. In ademocratic state like the United States where freedom of speech andfreedom of expression are highly regarded, blogging has been able tomake a huge impact on the American society.
Internetand Social Class
Theinternet media also perpetuated class in the society. Herman andChomsky (N.D) the evolution of media and the way the media hadpropagated class in developed world is evident. The internet came tobe accessible to the high class society and usable by the literatepopulation. This sidelined the poor and the illiterate.
Internetand Social Media
Theinternet has also brought about a revolution in the manner peopleinteract. Social media have enabled people to connect virtually andshare common values, goals and beliefs. This change in the societyhas been so influential not only on social issues but also onpolitical grounds. The recent Arab uprising for example can beattributed to the power of the internet.
Theinternet and Suppression of Democracy
Althoughthe internet has helped in promoting democracy where people can airtheir views and question anything, there has been instances wherethere has been suppression of democracy. Countries like China havefor a long time used internet censorship to control its people.Although the United Nation and the international community have beenagainst this move, china has continued to pursue this path. Inessence, the government is focused on shunning criticism or spread ofpropaganda by opposition.
Inaddition, there is concern over new communication and consumersovereignty. Free markets, even though with different positiveinfluence on consumers limit the area of communication greatly. AsSunstein (N.P) argues, it may even jeopardize the preconditions forcitizenship.
Conclusively,the media and especially the internet have made significant changesto the way people receive news and communicate to each other. Thepolitical agenda of most governments have often faced criticism fromthe population and analysts which brings about doubt in the people.Some governments have also been able to use the internet in theirfavor by delivering information that seems to promote its repute orimprove public relations. Nevertheless, some governments like theChinese government have suppressed freedom of information by limitingaccess to information. Blogging is also an influential way that theinternet has used to debate on critical social and political issues.Whereas blogs have been useful in debating and expressing publicopinion, they have also been used negatively to destroy or underminethe efforts of the government to promote democracy. Social media onthe other hand have revolutionalized the way people relate with eachother.
BarstowDavid and Stein Robin. UnderBush, a new age of prepackaged TV news.13/3/2005. Web. 22/6/2015.
HermanEdward and Chomsky Noam. ManufacturingConsent: A propaganda model.1988. Web. 23/6/2015.
HorriganJohn, Garrett Kelly and Resnick Paul. Theinternet and democratic debate.27/10/2004. Web. 24/6/2015.
IyengarShanto and Morin Richard. RedMedia, Blue Media.3/5/2006. Web. 23/6/2015.
SontagSusan. RealBattles and Empty Metaphors.10/9/2002. Web. 23/6/2015.
SunsteinCass. Exposureto Other Viewpoints Is Vital to Democracy.Web. 26/6/2015.