In many functions or state activities that occur in any country, media has been the best source of passing information about what is going on or reporting what took place. Media can either be in form of Television, Newspapers, Radio, Twitter, face bookamong others. How media affects elections can be either positive or negative. The main advantage of social media is its effectiveness in passing across information. During campaign periods, politicians get an ample time to talk to a large number of people at once. This reduces the difficulty of having to reach every individual so as to request for votes. Although this is seen as an advantage, use of social media as a campaign tool may make it hard for candidates to control their messages and image. One time, Goldstein said, ‘"Let me also suggest that we may come to view the current debates about 'plurality' and 'concentration' as wasteful diversions from a far more fundamental issue for media and democracy – fragmentation of audiences. New technology may have conquered the scarcity of channels, but that is increasingly yielding fragmented audiences based on far more choices and more narrowly-defined interests.’ (Goldstein 134)
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Social media such as face book, twitter, and MySpace among others are relatively cheaper to use. Aspirants will only pay for internet services and be able to reach alarge number of people. This reduces the cost of campaigning as it cuts down on the cost of fuel. Other than the reduced expenses, media has been known to influence the voters. Use of TV as a campaign tool for example, has great impact on the voter turnout on the voting day (Ansolabehereet al. 120). Candidates who air their policies using Television are more likely to get more votes because their popularity increases. This is based on the fact that the numbers of people watching Televisions are more compared to those who can access other sources like Newspapers and the internet services. This has a great influence on the old people because they may not be conversant with internet services. Although this is seen as a good media for campaigning, poor campaign approaches may taint the name of a candidate and this may lead to his/her loss in the elections (Ferenstein 1)
Use of media will also help a candidate to interact with a lot of people within a very short time. Use of social media, which provide chat rooms that allow aspirants to dialogue with people. Electorate can post their questions to the aspirants and be able to get answers within a short time. Therefore, this increases a person’s, chances of winning because he/she can convince voters from wherever they are without necessarily meeting them.
The effect of media on elections can be viewed from the perspective that the media acts as a political spotlight. Whereas many people are afraid that the media shapes the views of people during elections, the media plays an integral role dictating the issues that voters perceives as relatively significant. According to Lane (para. 9), although the media may perhaps shape people’s attitudes occasionally, most of the times, they are more effectual as a spotlight. Lane (para. 9) argues that the media plays a pivotal role in telling the electorate what issues to place emphasis on; however, the media is relatively less effective in telling the electorate what to think regarding those issues. Because the media is only way that the electorate can access campaign information that is distributed widely, it is highly likely that the media will determine the issues that the electorate takes into consideration when assessing a candidate and the standards of judging the candidate. Fundamentally, the media cannot necessarily influence the public perception of a candidate; however, it could determine the criteria used in the evaluation of a candidate.
The impact of media on elections can also be looked from the perspective of the media acting as a spotlight during elections. Through stressing the vital issues that the electorate should be concerned with, the media plays a pivotal role in dictating the issues that the electorate will be concerned with during the election process and the respective criteria for evaluating politicians (Lane para. 12). It is apparent that electorate receives new campaign information through either the social networks or the news media; as a result, the media can substantially influence the electorate through limiting the coverage of particular politicians. This draws on the premise that the media has the discretion to provide coverage only to the politicians that it perceives as legitimate candidates and have a considerable chance of winning. In the light of this view, the media functions as a filter by limiting coverage to lesser-known politicians and providing more coverage to better-known candidates.
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