How New Media Has Changed Election Campaigns

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Digital technology, especially social networking sites (SNS) have grown rapidly in size and influence, and in its presence in more and more aspects of social and political life. In the US election in 2016 for example, candidates are increasingly turning to social media for key announcements, by-passing the traditional media. Hillary Clinton, actually launched her presidential candidacy by tweeting ‘I’m running for president. Everyday Americans need a champion and I want to be that champion—H’—this was released in tandem with a YouTube video release: ‘Getting started’ . However, the rapid and extensive changes in media use in the last two decades has made it very difficult to theorise and measure the extent of what has changed. Accounts regarding …show more content…

Historian Robert Dinkin labelled the period between the 1950s and the late 1980s, as the “Mass Media Age” of political campaigning—period where television dominated the field of political communication and when national campaigns emerged in earnest . Howard argues, that beginning with the 1988 election, the “hypermedia campaign” succeeded the mass media campaign . The hypermedia campaign is marked by three trends: the rise of professional political consultants with specialist expertise on how to use data and ICTs in political campaign strategies, the replacement of mass media tools with targeted media tools which enable campaigns to target specific audiences with specific messages, and the increasing significance of technical decisions on campaign content . Throughout the late 1980s and 1990s, political consultants began sending targeted messages to the electorate using relational databases to send the members of the public targeted campaign leaflets and emails, and later different versions of campaign websites. For example, during the 2000 election, two different people logging into the Republican Web site, could see different headlines, depending on what the designers’ statistical models suggest a particular user would be most susceptible to . New media has facilitated the rise of Hypermedia …show more content…

New media has led to the rise of what Castells calls ‘mass self-communication’ and SNS have provided new platforms for discussion and debate . There is no doubt that the electorate have relied increasingly on social media and online sources for political information. Between 1996 and 2008 the percentage of Americans who got political information online rose from 4% to 40% . By 2016, 62% of American adults get news on social media, and change is still rapid—the percentage of Facebook users getting news from the site went up from 47% in 2013 to 66% in 2016 . However, this does not necessarily mean social media has replaced traditional news platforms, rather it is has changed the ways audiences watch or read it – as people increasingly use websites and social media feeds to access content created by mainstream news channels and newspapers . Furthermore, a study by Kushin and Yamamoto of college students’ use of SNS in the 2008 US election, found that despite young adult’s increasing preference for online media over traditional news media for political information, traditional Internet sources (websites of major newspapers and television networks) were more significant than social media in their effect on political self-efficacy and situational political involvement (defined as ‘an individual’s belief that through their

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