The interrelationship between Media and Politics

By \ Ursula Melhem

“Politics is an emotional game and TV is an emotional media, that is why it is the preferred battleground” – Kyle Roberts

I wrote this piece at the beginning of the previous year; look at where we are now in the midst of just finishing that definitively tumultuous year. Brexit was voted upon by the Brits, Pauline Hanson is back in the political sphere, and finally Donald Trump is now President-Elect of the United States of America. I am anticipating the future in, both, absolute fear conjoined by excitement. I am looking to the past as historical lessons, and we can now only go about our lives based on the present!

This battleground is often the reason why involvement in the media and politics is a double-edged sword – well that’s my opinion. After years of building my knowledge of the media industry – in both theory and practice – and exploring various paths, a step into the world of politics has given me another lens to look through. While the lenses of the two domains are comparatively different, they are not so far apart. Through the development of time, technology, and other factors, both trades rely on each other more than ever.

Breaking it into logistics, the media dominion educated me on how to employ its arsenal of: radio, television, newspapers, magazines, online publications etc. And after being introduced to the world of politics, my understanding of the inner workings of the media reached new heights. I was able to piece together my knowledge from both realms to form a holistic assessment. I came to the conclusion that politics is not adequately sustainable without the imposition of the media.

In the new digital age, we are continuously surrounded by people who averagely spend a third of their time awake on their phones and check some form of social media recurringly; whether it be via mobile, tablet, or laptop. I find that inevitably this provides a platform for education of the masses – whether that be a good or a bad thing, I am not entirely sure. What I am sure about, is that politicians – alike other brands – to be successful in what they do, require the attention and appraisal of the majority. With this knowledge, it is clear to see the value of Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms in the race of politics. Let’s be real, even Barack Obama has Twitter.

Evidence of this influence is sitting in plain sight within the American political landscape – with controversial presidential candidate Donald Trump. ‘The Donald’ as he is infamously referred to, is a billionaire businessman turned reality star turned politician. I must submit, it is hard to think of a world where Donald Trump gains his current political status so readily without the media; a result of infotainment. Coming back to educating the masses, social media is quite possibly a toxic tool, in his case, which has exacerbated his political ability – confusing his wealth and status with the capacity of true leadership.

The 21st Century has been an area for mass development in many aspects. Like I stressed before, technology, specifically social media, has knocked the world off its feet. Before the boom of the digital age, the relationship between media and politics was greatly contrasted to that of today. That relationship didn’t have the same Fourth Estate prominence as it does today. Disparately to today, televisions weren’t used as our main source of information. They were just another addition to the living room which would serve as entertainment from time to time. Aside from television – and similarly other mediums – global issues and hot topics were not at the touch of our fingertips as they are today. In a world where the news is broadcasted on most mobile devices, the news helpfully serves as a politician’s primary weapon against the competition. Exposure, here, is the primary tool of politics.

Individuals alike now have much too many outlets at their disposal to not be across political debates, for example, which may affect and/or interest the average citizen. Policies, popular or not, are often introduced, linked, and engaged with constituents – and the wider population – through social media forums which is an asset to political figures, more than regularly.

We know that through the development of technology, the interconnectedness between media and politics has changed greatly. The question is conversely, where will it go from here? What is the future for politics? Will the media continue to shape and influence? Time will only tell.

My prediction is that, as the technology and media industries have progressed and advanced systematically, the industry will continue to evolve. With that will come a greater dependency to the simplicity that online and digital media provide to the average persons. This may be prominently used through podcasting as a subsequent alternative to radio; which we now are beginning to see more of, and also through online publications as a subsequent alternative to print. Because of the magnitude that has enveloped social media, politics will further be on the rise to greater educate and entertain the masses. The social advances of technology – has been and – will continue to enormously shape everyday life; subsequently altering campaigning methods, policy introduction, amidst many other factors and strategies.

Bye 2016. Hello 2017.

“As a source of innovation, an engine of our economy, and a forum for our political discourse, the Internet can only work if it’s a truly level playing field. Small businesses should have the same ability to reach customers as powerful corporations. A blogger should have the same ability to find an audience as a media conglomerate“ – Al Franken