Here is an essay that I have written to address media in the political world.
The online media space takes many forms, and though we may not be able to quantify the amount of such, it can be important to note just how impactful media may be in the political world. In the Mitz of democratic North American elections, it can be impossible not to acknowledge that even the media we use outside of mainstream political campaigns and voting become saturated with the views and biases of people’s political opinions and beliefs. Despite the positive intentions of some, many people can become so attached to their own beliefs, that they use their media platforms to intentionally skew the thoughts of others, instead of peacefully sharing their knowledge. These media accounts are using misinformation and fake news, to sway voters with the support of their followers and viewers and could change the outcomes of political voting altogether. I will argue that media platforms now take priority over major political outlets and have now become the primary space in which people seek knowledge about politics, as opposed to information from politicians, thus, minimizing their authority and avoiding democracy completely due to lack of equality and transparency, with the help of the article, “Social Media and News Fact Sheet”(2020). First, I will begin by addressing the circumstances and definitions of democracy, secondly, I demonstrate how people have preferences towards social media platforms instead of the resources provided by politicians, and finally, I will claim many circumstances do not constitute media as a democratic space for dialogue and the need for alternative media.
The academic journal, Democracy, written by Anthony Arblaster (2002), studies the definitions and controversies of democracy. If one was to consider the idea that social media platforms are places of democratic places for discussions, in that case, we may also need to acknowledge the characteristics and regulations that go forward to make a democracy altogether. Here, we are asking the question, “What makes a democracy?”. If we are mostly considering western traditions of democracy and media, and “the western world has always tended to be complacent about democracy” theories of democracy are an evolutionary idea, and there are many definitions of democracy studied. “It has long been assumed that democracy is something which already existed in our part of the world.” (Arblaster 2), however, through time the meaning of democracy was thought to have negative connotations. Democracy has been known to be “a rule by the …government in accordance with the will of the bulk of the people” thus, suggesting that the ultimate dictations are done with the people’s beliefs in mind. But there is little evidence that supports this in the media space.
As much as one may think that the media space has become solely democratic, many people are now selecting information based on the success of the media itself. For the case of this essay, we will be considering the research article, “Social Media and News Fact Sheet”(2020) to examine just how much people are turning to social media as a way of discovering information as opposed to sources. When it comes to viewing news, “Americans regularly get news on social media, Facebook outpaces all other social media sites. Roughly a third of U.S. adults (31%) say they regularly get news from Facebook” (Sheet, 2022). Making the social media sites that people are using extremely influential, nevertheless, people no longer search for information from the source, and now turn to whatever app or post is trending the most. However, because of the influences of this mainstream media, marginalized groups become less represented and overlooked, specifically, smaller political groups, racial groups, women etc, that do not have enough advocacy. It may be impossible to even consider social media platforms a democratic space in the first place because of the rise in the network society and mainstream media that have radical agendas for ultimate “consumption” (Sheet, 2022).
The overall lack of consideration for other beliefs and great inequality in the media space, as gathered from the source above, contributes to a non-democratic online dialogue as it does not constitute the requirements for that kind of political system. The consistent flow of misinformation as noted by the “partisan gaps emerged in views” (Mitchell et. al, 2021) establishes a clear distinction between the people following certain media sites that pertain to specific political views, causing many people to become immersed with fake news and misinformation. This overall discrepancy calls for alternative media, if people are going to primarily use media sites instead of original speakers and news platforms there needs to be a way for people to share information without the money-grinding agenda of the mainstream. This may be helpful because “alternative social media sites say they support free speech; none declare left-pr right-leaning political orientation” allowing people to learn via their interpretations (Stocking et. al, 2022) without the misconstrued media that is put out there by major companies, to generate the most funds. While these consequences of the mainstream media are documented, the article, “Social Media and News Fact Sheet”(2020), demonstrates just how many apps and popular sites people are using to get their information.
Furthermore, the rise of the network society, mainstream media, can be thought to be a democratic space, however, many factors lead to the dismantling of that observation. The amount of people viewing media through second-party sources and social media pages as listed in Fact Sheet’s article (2022) theorizes that amongst just how people may be influenced by these apps. In the future, the need for alternative media is extremely prevalent and should be used more frequently due to the marginalization that many groups go through on social media (racism, sexism, classism etc.).
Arblaster, A. (2002). Democracy (3rd ed.). Open University Press.
Atske, S. (2022). 2. alternative social media sites frequently identify as free speech advocates. Pew Research Center’s Journalism Project. Retrieved from https://www.pewresearch.org/journalism/2022/10/06/alternative-social-media-sites-frequently-identify-as-free-speech-advocates/
Atske, S. (2021). 2. Republicans who relied on trump for news in 2020 diverged from others in GOP in views of covid-19, election. Pew Research Center’s Journalism Project. Retrieved from https://www.pewresearch.org/journalism/2021/02/22/republicans-who-relied-on-trump-for-news-in-2020-diverged-from-others-in-gop-in-views-of-covid-19-election/
Thorpe, F. N. (2017). Democracy in America. The Atlantic. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1893/12/democracy-in-america/523974/
Pew Research Center. (2022). Social Media and News Fact sheet. Pew Research Center’s Journalism Project. Retrieved from https://www.pewresearch.org/journalism/fact-sheet/social-media-and-news-fact-sheet/