InternetPotential and News Media
Thenews media are influential in all aspects of the society and in alldimensions of the modern world. Of all the platforms of the newsmedia, the internet is the most influential and the most positionedto be used by people for forming opinion and sharing ideologies. Theinternet has become the most powerful tool for passing news in amanner that connects all the people in the world. The use of theinternet is not only limited on the passing information or masscommunication, it extends to the creation of awareness globally. Thismakes the internet a powerful news media tool, especially in thepolitical arena. According to Horrigan, Garrett and Resnick (1), theinternet is largely used for mass communication in a manner thattends to influence the public in masses. This makes the Internet, anews media platform, to be uniquely positioned for influencing theworld, especially the political world. This paper seeks tounderstand the functions of the internet and its potential to be usedin ways that are perceived by various authors as abuse for politicalreasons. The discussion will show that despite the internet being atool for good functions, it can be used for bad purposes just asargued by Chomsky and Sunstein in regard to news media.
Oneof the main functions of the internet is globalizing the world into avirtual village of sharing. This gives the internet the potential touse the internet for passing the local news into global news. Thispresents a potential for use of the internet to shape politicalideologies in the entire world. The internet will be used just likeany other media, to pass information to the world in a bid toinfluence certain predetermined opinion. This affects democracy byimpacting on the access to viewpoints and influences the views thatpeople get from the media (Sunstein 1). This is done through thecontrol of the new media, by characters whose use of the media makesit worse for the democratic situation (Herman and Chomsky 1).
Theinternet therefore has a potential of being used to shape thepolitical opinion of the world, more than any other tool of the newmedia. For instance, the ideology that America is at war is presentedthrough the new media as a unique thing. According to Barstow andStein (1), President Bush sought to convince the world of theAmerican position in regard to the war using the new media. The useof the internet in this context could have impacted to the wholeworld and not just Americans. The use of the internet as a media toolwould therefore make it easy for governments like the United Statesinfluence the world opinion, especially in their favor.
Theinternet has been used as a news media tool, through thefunctionality of being able to pass information to the masses.Passing information to the public and on mass impact is the main roleof the news media. However, the use of the internet for this purposeis the most significant because information spreads faster and wideon the internet than in the conventional news media like radio andtelevision. According to Horrigan et al (1), the use of the internetincreases the number that is reached and passes the message faster.This means that the internet has potential for abuse of the politicalclass as they seek dominance over the people who receive news.
Justlike other news media, the internet can be used to pass thepredetermined news to influence the public towards a certaindirection. According to Barstow and Stein (1), the use of the newsmedia for the presentation of predetermined was observed in theunited states during the reign of president bush. Barstow and Stein(1) report that the government of president bush influenced the newsthat televisions showed to the public. In the same way, the internethas a potential of being used to pass information and news that arepreferred to the media by the government of the day. This means thatthe people will receive what the government determines as the bestfor the public, despite having a different perspective of the truth.
However,the internet gives an equal platform for the whole world to accessthe same level of news or information being passed. The use of theinternet as a news platform gives the people the access toinformation despite having a challenge in accessing the traditionalmedia. This is because the conventional media like the television andradio tend to be controlled by the state and more biased. Accordingto Barstow and Stein (1), federal agencies are broadcasters, andinfluence the news that is broadcast by reporters. However, theinternet has a different perspective because they give a platform byposting news and information without excessive control by the state.However, this potentially gives a threat of abuse by posting anyinformation that may not be necessarily be true facts as news.
Themain function that makes the internet a full communication platformis the ability to get an instant reaction from the audience.Therefore, the use of the internet as a news tool provides theopportunity to receive opinions from the audience. This creates aplatform of people interacting with each other to create an argumentor opinion. According to Sunstein (1), democracy thrives better whenpeople consider the different arguments and ideologies that challengetheir viewpoints. Using the conventional media, people do not get thechance to interact with the broadcasters and the news makers. Theinternet gives the platform for sharing the news, the arguments andthe opinion, all in one large systemized platform of sharing newsglobally.
Anothermajor application of the mass communication function of the internetis to create public awareness. One of the main types of awarenessthat is created by the internet is the political awareness,especially in the active periods of political processes likecampaigns and elections. In modern day, the internet contributedsignificantly to political awareness and different viewpoints(Iyengarand Morin 1). According to the number of Americans receivingpolitical information has been on the increase. To substantiate theargument, Horrigan et al (1) states that over 40% of the internetusers received political material during campaigns online. Horriganet al (1) further argues that this statistic indicates an increasefrom the previous elections of 2000 when it was 50% less. This showsthe potentiality that the internet has in terms of generatingopinion, sharing ideas and creating awareness.
Thecreation of awareness through the internet is not limited to thepolitical opinion or political opinions. Governments can use theinternet to create awareness of the state of the nation andchallenges facing a country. Since the 9/11 attack on the UnitedStates, the government has been spreading valid information thatAmerica is at war (Sotag 1). According to Sotag (1), the Bushadministration took a campaign to create awareness of the new kind ofwar that America was fighting against terrorism. Taking thisawareness as a model, the internet can be used as a tool of fightingterrorism through the news content that is channeled online. Thiswould be important because the internet provides a platform for masscommunication and at the global level.
However,the internet can also be used for the worse in relation to thecreation of awareness. Like any other news media, the internet can beused to spread information and content that makes any situation inthe world worse. For instance, propaganda can be spread through theinternet by not only posting on the negative but also untrueinformation. According to Herman and Chomsky (1), the people who seekto ensure inequality and dominate in terms of wealth and power usethe mass media to spread information that benefits their individualinterests. Mostly, the political class is more likely to use theinternet for propaganda and untrue information, rather than otherpeople in the society. This creates a concern for the modern societyas people seek to advance the internet for sharing news and ideas.
Theuse of the internet as a news media is based on its function as acommunication tool to the public in masses. The internet is a newsmedia that are significantly used to influence the opinion of thepublic through its mass communication method. One of the main areasthat the development of the news media has influenced is politics andthe electoral processes. Like any other media, it is vulnerable tobad use, especially by those who seek control of the information andopinion shared locally and globally. This makes the internet a toolwhose functionality can be used to make situations worse for thedemocratic public.
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