Political communications has changed a lot since the early American politics to today’s politics. Currents in Communication: Textbook and Reader, 2nd Edition compares the travel of Lincoln’s speech and Obama’s speech during their political careers: “A transcript and news of Lincoln’s speech traveled relatively slowly through the country, printed and reprinted in newspapers in cities large and small. Obama’s speech was seen as it was delivered by millions of people and then was the subject of nearly endless commentary, also on television, during the course of the next several days. The changes in the methods of communication, as well as the consistency, are significant.” Back in the early American politics, the communication used by the politicians was directed towards the elite, not the everyday people like it is today. The way they communicated to each other was through the use of letters and closed meetings. The newspaper was used as a political communication method to strike at the political parties. Besides the newspaper, the pamphlet also played a big role in political communication. A popular pamphlet during the American Revolution was Common Sense, written by Thomas Paine. It made its way through the elite and to the everyday people. As the literacy rates began to climb, ways of political communication were improved and advanced to new and better things such as the printing. Later on in the 1840s ways of communication in politics transformed into campaign songs, buttons, and independent newspapers dedicated to one candidate. In 1844 the telegraph became popular after reporting the Whig presidential nominating convention in Baltimore to Washington D.C. The typewriter also became very popular because of the quick way to type articles for newspapers. In 1920 the radio became a hot bed for presidential elections and politics in general. The television started to play a big role in politics during 1952. “The shift to television as the vehicle for political campaigning had a profound influence on the practice of politics. On the one hand, the way a candidate looked and performed on television, and the effectiveness of the television commercials their campaigns crafted, became increasingly important. On the other hand, political parties and their organizations became less important. Candidates, who had to raise enormous amounts of money to find television commercials, became increasingly independent of the parties with which they were affiliated.” The last form of political communications that changed the way politics are conducted was the internet and social media. (Chapter 6 Currents in Communication: Textbook and Reader, 2nd Edition)
Some important changes in political communication and how were they impacted by new communication technologies are choosing what type of news you want want to watch instead of being subjected to one news company, how fast news spreads now through social media and the internet, the way people are able to express their feelings towards politicians and what they do by using social media, and being able to donate to candidates right through the internet which makes it easier for everyone.
American Politicians now use media to their advantage during elections. information about a candidate and his or her views and goals are posted and uploaded to YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, etc. MySpace to Your Space: How Celebrity Politics and the Internet are Transforming Political Communication Among American Youth states that “Fans based their decisions on how they self-identify with politicians”. The use of social media by politicians creates a sense of a more personal relationship between the candidates and every day people.
Watch video to get a complete understanding of how the new media changed politics:
Chapter 6 Currents in Communication: Textbook and Reader, 2nd Edition