Wednesday, October 21, 2015

American Politics in a Digital Age

By Mira Kuhar

It's no lie that the digital realm has changed the way that Americans view and deal with politics on a daily basis. From TV programs to social media accounts, the way that Americans are digesting political information has changed - but has it changed for the better? According to The Telegraph, the majority of those who are 44 and under are receiving their political news from digital/Internet sources. This shows that most of the voters in this day and age are getting their political news and information from digital outlets, despite the credibility of the sources. So what does this mean for TV programs, political social media accounts and other means of digital political information sharing? How are these components of the digital age potentially affecting the way Americans today are digesting political information?

Television and politics is not something that is not new to the 21st century. However, the way that certain politicians and political events are portrayed on television has changed, and could potentially cause ethical dilemmas. For example, this past summer following the Republican debate that took place in August, Donald Trump made some provocative comments regarding debate mediator, Megyn Kelly, during an interview with CNN. Because this interview was on a popular television program that many people were tuned into and watching, it caused a stir and a lot of backlash. Television presents this idea of immediacy that can be beneficial, however, when a situation like this occurs, it can be detrimental to a news station since there is no way to censor or edit live programs.

According to Politico, social media is "the third big technological makeover of modern electioneering." This means that social media is transforming elections and the political hubbub surrounding them. There are plenty of ways that this idea is represented. For example, politicians are expressing their opinions via social media. This is an extremely daring move because traditionally, political views expressed by politicians were only publicized through controlled media. Social media gives these politicians the ability to express their own opinions on their own time when it is deemed relevant. President Barak Obama has nearly 5 million followers on Facebook; this goes to show that people are successfully connecting with this form of political information sharing, despite the ethical or potential biased situations that may come from it.

So what does this mean for journalists and the ethical practices we abide to stand by? Well for Megyn Kelly, politics expressed in these new digital and uncensored ways put her in situations that she may not have encountered if technology wasn't as advanced as it is. Because of the Donald Trump situation, she made a statement in response to his actions that touched on what he said and why she wouldn't let it affect her. In my opinion, this was definitely a great move for her as a journalist. It showed that not only will she not tolerate this kind of behavior on live television, but also it addressed issues in ethical ways that many journalists should look to in the future regarding similar situations.

In all, the openness of the Internet and the digital realm has caused ethical dilemmas for political topics, politicians and journalists. It's about looking at these issues, discovering what can be changed and making those changes so that they don't continue to happen.

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