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The Role of Mass Media in the 2008 U.S. Elections Essay

The United States of America rejoiced on the outcome of the recently concluded 2008 Presidential Elections which made Former Senator Barack Obama victorious over his political opponent Senator John McCain. The election was considered as one of the most memorable in the history of politics in the United States for it was the first time that an African American won over the dominating White race in the very powerful and elite field in the society. In a society that has a rich history of racisms and discrimination; it is hard to believe that people will allow such event to happen.

It just proves that parity among races and ethnicity is almost at hand. The mass media is one of the most important tools that play a significant role in the presidential election that happened last November. Through the mass media, people were able to keep tabs of their candidates if they are winning or losing the race. Media also informed the public of the polls that are being counted in various states all at once. Thus, making the acquisition of relevant and useful information is a lot easier through the use of mass media.

They have a duty to inform the public of the recent important events that bear relevance and concern of the people’s daily lives. Media will always play an important part in every election or any important event that will happen, because the media is tasked to record any important events that will shape the contemporary society. Mass Media Mass media has been around for generations and its importance in the society is recognized over the years as it participated in some of the most significant events that shaped the contemporary society to what it is now.

Mass media is a collection of tools that is used in mass communication to disseminate vital information and messages that is perceived by the people. Mass communication and mass media are partners in informing, entertaining and educating the public. Mass communication is the process of transmitting messages and information through a medium or a channel to a large and diverse audience or market (Lane). It is a special section of the media intended to use in reaching a very large audience.

Mass media is a tool of communication that is utilized in facilitating mass communication. It is composed of eight mass media industries which include Magazines, Newspapers, Books, Recordings, Film, Radio, Television and the Internet (Lane). These eight media industries are grouped in three main categories which are the print, broadcast and digital medium. It is not easy to define and describe the various aspects encompassing the functions and roles of media since it is an industry that is most adaptable to change.

The emergence of digital communication technology which is a recent addition to the collection mass media tools, manifests that the media industry adheres to the dynamicity of the modern society. Recently, there are another additions in the collection of mass media tools due to the advancement of human technology which invents and innovates tools and gadgets that are capable of reaching a large audience all at the same time. A cell phone is one of the most wonderful products of technology. Mobile phones or telephones are technically considered as tools for mediated-interpersonal communication.

Conventionally, it was only capable of bridging two people together in an exchange of messages. But because of the technology that is responsible for the recent features that are added to the typical mobile phones, some phones nowadays are equipped for internet browsing, radio streaming and camcorders that are classified as tools for mass communication. The media have so many functions that it helped the public in attaining relevant information in an instant. Media also serves other functions in the contemporary society such as informing the public.

During the times of war, acquisition of information is very difficult and some of the information obtained by the public is often filtered by the government officials. The government also imposed restrictions to what type of information the media can impart to the public. This process is also known as “gatekeeping”, which means filtering of information by either the government or the media itself. During these years, media is controlled by the government. When a war has ceased, reconstruction of the casualties and damages caused by the war should follow.

In this light, amendments on the governing laws of the government are done and freedom on media activities is provided. However, the freedom that is provided is not absolute, because there are still laws that are being drafter to ensure that freedom abuse by media will not occur. The First Amendment of U. S. Constitution states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances” (“U. S.

Constitution: First Amendment” n. p. ). The others functions of the mass media is to entertain and educate its audience. To entertain is to provide leisure to the audience in various forms like programs and advertisements. The media also educates the public in several ways, such as through the programs being broadcasted and through articles that are published by the print media. Mass Media: The Fourth Estate The media is often accused of imposing a culture that is far from reality. It is often criticized by leftists and supporters of the Marxist ideologies and communism which control all the functions and aspects of the state.

In communist and socialist countries like China and Russia, respectively, the media serves as a medium wherein the role of the government is emphasized and its intentions are being made clear for the public. However, in democratic countries that allow the media and the press in exercising freedom of speech, they serve a function of fulfilling the important roles of being the fourth estate of the nation. They become the watchdog of the government, “the guardians of democracy, and defenders of the public interest” (“The Mass Media as Fourth Estate”).

The phrase Fourth Estate is attributed to the 19th century historian Carlyle who expounded Edmund Burke’s statement about the Three Estates of the Parliament. But Carlyle then referred to the reporters in the gallery of which he described that acquired equal powers as the other estates. The press is considered as the Fourth Estate or the fourth power who watches the checks and balances of the three other wings of the government which are the executive, legislative and the judiciary (“The Mass Media as Fourth Estate”).

The media closely watches over the activities of the government officials and public figures ready to expose any of their misconduct and wrongdoings for the public, in order to come up with necessary actions to be imposed against the committed delinquency. As such, the role of the press is to inform the public of the government’s activities and in turn, become the public’s voice in order to express their opinions and stand on the issue. Roles of Media in 2008 U. S. Elections The mass media takes part in every significant event that happens in the society. The mass media is able to record every detail of a particular event.

As such, the media has a strong impact on the political landscape of the United States. Media greatly influences the outcome of political events and participates greatly in political decisions. Media played a significant role in the recently concluded 2008 U. S. Presidential Elections. From the first step of choosing the candidates for the political parties in the United States, towards the campaign period and until the Election Day and tallying of votes; the media takes a huge participation. The people have seen how Senator Barack Obama and Senator Hilary Clinton fought over the presidential bet of the Democrat Party.

The people were informed of how they debated many times presenting their platforms and ideologies that hopefully would win the hearts of the Democrats and the supporters. It was broadcasted in television and radio and printed in newspapers. The entire world has heard how the critics commented on the huge change that will be brought by the Democratic Party – whoever of the two will make it on the Presidential seat – either Obama will become the first African American president of the United States, or Clinton will emerge as the first female president of the country.

The campaign period was put into motions and people have seen how the candidates utilized the various media outfits to gain an advantage over their political opponent. People have witnessed how the candidates infiltrated the different mass media industries to increase their popularity and win over the race. The common tools of political campaigns are the television, radio and newspapers. The faces of the politicians are to be seen everywhere promising political reforms and national development.

Even the digital communication technology was also used due to its prevalence and popularity especially to the young people. Even though the utilization of broadcast media increased exponentially, this is the first Presidential election wherein the social networks in the internet such as MySpace, Facebook and YouTube were utilized to persuade the electorate (“Social Media and Presidential Election: Impact of YouTube, MySpace”). The utilization of these tools is new and convenient. First, the use and access of the various social networks is free. As such, this can cut off the costs for the campaign fund.

Second, it reaches a large audience because the internet is used by people every now and then. Plus, the social networking in the internet is very popular especially to the young people and that every voting population has a registered account. It is traditionally known that people will turn to the conventional media to acquire information about a candidate and obtain political information pertinent in making their political decisions. But nowadays, people are also turning to internet sites and personal social network accounts to see the views of their friends on who to vote for.

The information they find in the internet, especially on social network accounts, are information they find more credible and persuasive (“Social Media and Presidential Election: Impact of YouTube, MySpace”). There are also discussions pertaining to how media presents and determines the outcome of the Presidential Race. The media greatly influences the people and has a huge tendency to shape the public opinion solely based on their concentration on a particular political candidate. This is why media popularity is considered most important.

It is important that you are able to reach people even in the farthest places and make them know the candidates well (“The Involvement of Mass Media in Political Campaigns”). The voter’s view can also be altered by political advertisements that do not merely focus on the real political issues but only of trivial concerns. This may cause voters to either dislike the candidate or develop sympathy towards them. With the involvement of media, elections often become popularity contests due to the popularity polls that are being shown in the broadcast and print media prior to the actual voting.

Commercial advertisements were also used in election campaigns to get the voters to believe and take the position of a particular politician. Politicians have a difficult time in guiding the voters’ opinions due to these particular actions of the mass media (“The Involvement of Mass Media in Political Campaigns”). Media also plays a significant part in covering the counting and tallying of votes during the Presidential Elections. The coverage of mass media involves two key elements which are news reporting and paid advertising. The combination of the two makes an important and influential factor in the election process.

The media looks forward on the election for news and revenues they will gather because the candidates rely mainly on the media to reach the largest number of voters possible (“Mass Media Coverage of Presidential Election”). The media plays a very powerful and justifiable role during elections. Despite of being accused on focusing not on the main political issues but on the unnecessary personal lives of the candidates and other criticisms thrown against the media, it still performs its duty to the public as the watchdog of the government.

Their job is simply to present the truth and detect any misconducts or wrongdoings done by any of the political figures aspiring for a seat. Conclusion Mass media continues to play significant roles and functions in the conventional and contemporary society. Mass media enables people to acquire necessary information in an easy and fast way. Mass media also plays significant roles and functions during elections. They perform their duties from the start of the campaign up to the counting of the electoral votes.

The mass media has been an important part in the recently concluded 2008 U. S. Presidential Elections wherein Senator Barack Obama obtained victory and as such, became the first African American president of the United States. The participation of mass media in the campaigns marked the presidential elections. It was the first time that the candidates utilized all the available mass media means just to reach the largest voting population as much as possible. It is undeniable that the mass media will always continue to record history and shape and mold the society.

Works Cited Lane, Beth. 29 June 2007. “What is Mass Media? ” Suite101. com. 11 December 2008 <http://medialiteracy. suite101. com/article. cfm/what_is_mass_media_>. • The article defined mass media and mass communication and examined the recent additions to the mass media industry which is the digital communication technology. “Mass Media Coverage of Presidential Election”. 19 December 2001. OPPapers. com. 11 December 2008 <http://www. oppapers. com/essays/Mass-Media-Coverage-Presidential-Election/22555>.


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