Today the outbound telephone marketing industry has given political campaigns the ability to reach out to a large group of targeted voters in a quick and quiet way, just below the radar. This notion went way beyond the small volunteer call centers that have existed for over forty years. It was essential for the technology to be in place and widely utilized. Political campaigns could not have put into production a complete industry of dissimilar companies, large and small, with many thousands of telephones in call centers. This was a revolution as one could target using any criteria from gender, age, vote propensity, income, level of education, to presence of children. One could shape the message even within a single calling agenda, so that they may be calling all women, but the script may be different for younger women in comparison to older women. And maybe most importantly, one can collect information. "If a candidate asks each voter what issue is most important to them, they can not only find out the answers that correspond to 100,000 individual voters but they can then change the way they communicate with those voters based on their answers" (Teal, n.d.).
In September 1998 two California-based entrepreneurs, Joan Blades and Wes Boyd, became frustrated with the political mess they saw going on in D.C. Feeling very American, they decided to do something about it and launched an online petition. Within a few days they had gathered hundreds of thousands of signatures. What they found people needed was a sense of empowerment, a way to have their voices heard. Blades and Boyd moved on to form the MoveOn.org Political Action Committee, an online organization which now boasts over 3.3 million members (Housley, 2011). Almost by accidentally, Blades and Boyd caught the attention of the media, as well as campaign organizers, who sent out bulk emails and created flashy fundraising websites faster than one can say donation. The effect that this had is still being realized today.
With the augment in cable channels and Internet usage, a recent tendency has been the increase in broadcast channels that are geared toward particularly narrow audiences, frequently referred to as narrowcasting. With so many readily available sources of information for so many specific interests, it will also be tremendously easy for those who are not very interested in politics to completely avoid news and public affairs (the Mass Media and the Political Agenda, 2010). The result could well be a growing inequality of political information, with the politically interested becoming more knowledgeable while the rest of the public slips further into political apathy. Only a relatively small number of TV stations are publicly owned in America, and these PBS stations play a minimal role in the news business, attracting low ratings. In contrast, in many other countries major TV networks are owned by the government.
Many now argue that politics is currently in the middle of an Internet revolution. Politics are said to be facing a parallel migration from place to space. "From the places visited by President Truman in his whistle-stop tour, campaigns have moved to the space of mybarackobama.com" (Wattal, Schuff, Mandviwalla & Williams, 2010). While some portions of political campaigns will stay the same, enduring to do business as usual, others will be altered in the Internet space. Customary election politics featured speeches, handshakes, fundraising dinners, billboards, TV ads, and campaign offices in small retail storefronts. In the virtual space of the Internet, e-politics centers on new delivery channels. These new channels include websites and blogs that expand television and print and create new types of personalized content where the message is textual rather than only oral (Wattal et al., 2010).
In this virtual space, campaign workers are likely to spend equal or more time canvassing their electronic neighborhood than they do traditionally canvassing neighborhoods. This will be done by soliciting and managing friendship requests on Facebook, releasing campaign videos through YouTube, or organizing meetings through meetup.com. These online tools permit almost immediate and continuous cycles of distribution and use of content at very low costs (Wattal et al., 2010). Future candidates and campaigns that pay no attention to these changes likely will be at a noteworthy disadvantage and face becoming immaterial to next-generation voters.
In general, the nature and extent of the Internet revolution in politics is in disagreement. Proponents see the Internet's interactive potential as transformational, while proponents foresee no Internet induced change in the fundamental political inequalities of the present system. Cornfield (2005) sees prospective for a reconfiguration of the most public aspects of the American political process in one of three ways: one advance to campaigning may govern, several models could contend over a period of time or each election cycle and political situation could create an exclusive arrangement. West (2005) suggests a transitional position whereby slow but steady incremental alterations become significant as these changes build up over time. Bimber and Davis (2003) typify the Internet's role as supplemental rather than relocating traditional media, an extremely effective niche communication tool for precise audiences and purposes such as mobilizing political activists.
Even though the American media is free and self-governing when it comes to journalistic content, they are completely dependent on advertising revenues to keep their businesses going. Thus, news reporting is a business in America in which proceeds shape how journalists classify what is exciting, where they get their information, and how they present it. To a great extent, TV networks classify news as what is interesting to the average viewer (the Mass Media and the Political Agenda, 2010).
An amazing amount of news comes from well-founded sources. Most news organizations allocate their best reporters to particular specific locations where news normally originates. Very little of the news is created by impulsive events or a reporter's own study. Most stories are drawn from circumstances over which newsmakers have substantial control. For instance, those who make the news rely on the media to broadcast specific information and ideas to the general public. Sometimes they feed stories to reporters in the shape of trial balloons, which is information that is leaked in order to see what the political reaction would be. "TV news is little more than a headline service. With exceptions like the Newshour (PBS) and Nightline (ABC), analysis of news events rarely lasts more than a minute. At the same time, complex issues-like nuclear power, the nation's money supply, and pollution-are difficult to treat in short news clips" (the Mass Media and the Political Agenda, 2010).
Oddly enough, as technology has facilitated the media to disseminate information with greater speed, news coverage has become less comprehensive. Newspapers once regularly reprinted the complete text of important political speeches; now the New York Times is almost the only paper that does so and even the Times has cut back tremendously on this practice. In place of speeches, Americans now hear sound bites of less than ten seconds on TV. The idea that the media have a liberal prejudice has become a well-known one in American politics, and there is some narrow evidence to support it. "Reporters are more likely to call themselves liberal than the general public, and more journalists classify themselves as Democrats than Republicans. However, there is little reason to consider that journalists' personal attitudes sway their reporting of the news. Most stories are presented in a point/counterpoint format in which two contrasting points-of-view are presented" (the Mass Media and the Political Agenda, 2010).
A conclusion that news reporting contains little unambiguous partisan or ideological prejudice is not to dispute that it does not twist reality in its coverage. In an ideal world, the news should reflect reality. In practice, there are too many likely stories for this to be the case. Journalists must pick which stories to cover and to what level. Due to economic pressures, the media are prejudiced in support of stories with high drama that will draw people's interest, rather than comprehensive analyses of complex issues. Television is mainly biased toward stories that produce good pictures. "Seeing a shot of a person's face talking directly to the camera is boring; viewers will switch channels in search of more interesting visual stimulus" (the Mass Media and the Political Agenda, 2010).
For a lot of years, students of the subject tended to doubt that the media had more than a marginal effect on public opinion. The minimal effects hypothesis stemmed from the fact that early scholars were looking for direct impacts. For example, whether the media affected how people voted. When the focus turned to how the media affect what Americans think about, more positive results were uncovered. The decision to cover or to pay no attention to certain issues can affect public opinion (the Mass Media and the Political Agenda, 2010). By centering public attention on specific troubles, the media influences the criterion by which the public assesses political leaders and in the end influences who get elected…