Phrases such as cyberpolitics and e-governance have been used to describe the emerging form of politics that has been brought about by information technology. These concepts indicate that politics associated with new information technology differ from the traditional methods of disseminating information through the broadcast media. These developments pose great challenges and therefore questions such as how technology may lead to a different political dispensation needs to be answered. Answering these questions have taken along time similar to the time it took the effects of television on politics to be evident.
It has been shown that information technology and traditional media are mutually dependent. This characteristic makes it difficult for a distinctly new idea (Bimber, para1). The development of technology has changed the face of election campaigns by political candidates and their parties. The past election in the United States intensively used the internet and web videos clips for social networking. Candidates and parties have resorted to using websites as a central strategy in their campaigns.
These websites have been used for recruiting volunteers, who have been critical in information dissemination, developing social and support networks, raising funds, recruiting and registering members and voters. The traditional news and information new such as TV and newspapers are increasingly using the contents of these websites as a source of their information. (Borge, Cardenal and Padro, para2). The 2008 presidential elections in the United States relied heavily on technology through the internet to implement policies, organize and manage campaigns which involved fundraising and social networking.
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The internet has become an important source of information for presidential campaigns. Research shows that about 24 percent of Americans rely on the internet for campaign information and news, a figure which suggest a double improvement from the 2004 presidential campaigns in the United States. The use of traditional methods of obtaining information has been declining gradually after the 2008 presidential campaign with a drop in both TV news and daily newspapers. However, there exists age disparity in campaign information sources with young people preferring to go online to obtain information.
Those who prefer the internet as their source of information use a wide range of websites with MSNBC and CNN being the most visited online news channels. Most of these internet users only encounter news and information while doing other things. This paper therefore examines how technology has influenced politics and election particularly in relation to the 2008 United States presidential elections (Pew Research Center, para6). It is worth noticing that there is no communication vacuum even without information technology as a means of communication.
Several questions are raised concerning whether information technology developments should supplement or replace traditional communication methods. How does information technology impact on traditional media? The American case provides a basis for answering this question. In promoting policy issues, websites provides a means of communication among members of like minded groups in organizing and mobilizing their collective efforts to advocate for these policies. These websites store information about their members in databases which they use to solicit for peoples opinions and ideas.
Instead of sending messages to every member whenever there is important information to be passed across, these institutions pass these information to only targeted members who the information suits best. This makes the internet a powerful tool in mobilization efforts at fairly low cost. However a detailed analysis of these institutions suggests that these members use traditional mediums of communication such as telephone calls and attending rallies to communicate to citizens.
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