THE IMPACT OF THE INTERNET ON VOTERS
Although the Internet has an enormous impact on voters, this medium cannot change the opinion of the average US citizens who are not interested in politics. Dan Johnson (2000) states: “the Internet tries to push everyone into the fast lane”ť, but, unfortunately, it cannot change the political life of the average Jane or Joy who still pay little attention to politics”ť (p. 11). The statistical data proves the fact that the number of Americans effectively using the Internet for political news, important information and political activity “has grown steadily since 1996 and will likely continue to do so through several more election cycles”ť (Raisinghani & Weiss, 2011, p. 30). It means that more and more voters show their interest in politics and are ready to share their ideas with others. In addition, the statistics shows that “69% of registered voters in the United States are the Internet users”ť (Raisinghani & Weiss, 2011, p. 30). The growth of political audience is connected with such factors as the spread of the Internet connections, the so-called maturation of political audience and the experience of users, and the increased competitiveness of political races.
In addition, the recent survey findings proved the fact that the use of the Internet for getting political news is closely connected with the process of voting, while other sources of information can be used for other purposes. It means that today “online political information is an important factor in efforts to promote civic engagement – especially among the young”ť (Raisinghani & Weiss, 2011, p. 31).
THE INTERNET VS OTHER MEDIA USED IN POLITICAL COMMUNICATION
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â The issue concerning the spread of the Internet usage is widely discussed in literature. According to the research on media-use trends, in 1995, the access to the Internet in the USA stood at about 14% of the population, while in 2008, the access to the Internet was 67% (Tewksbury & Rittenberg, 2012, p. 34).Â It is found that today the Internet is one of the most popular and effective media outlets for political campaigning and elections, and “may soon be used for electronic voting”ť, according to Mahesh S. Raisinghani and Randy Weiss (2011, p. 29). The Internet is more effective than any other type of media as this medium has its direct impact on political candidates and their political campaigns. The Internet promotes democracy. Although the Internet does not create a new political order in political communication, it “does provide a new and enhanced platform for organization, communication, and collaboration in political campaigns and elections”ť (Raisinghani & Weiss, 2011, p. 30). In addition, the statistics shows that the percentage of Americans who read newspapers regularly reduced from 71% to 54%, and those who watch TV news regularly reduced from 82% to 75%, and those who listen to the radio ”“ dropped from 50% to 40%, in accordance with David Tewksbury and Jason Rittenberg (2012, p. 34). It means that the adoption of the Internet is driving voters away from other types of media, such as newspapers, radio and television.
Moreover, the Internet is considered to be not only the major news provider, but also a key channel for political campaigns and activist groups, and “the most dominant source for political communication”ť (Tewksbury & Rittenberg, 2012, p. 36). It is clear that the adoption of the Internet for political communication increased the audiences’ interest in politics and provided the appropriate conditions for the spread of democracy. As a result, today printed and broadcasted media experience decline in the quality of content and advertising revenues.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â CONCLUSION
In conclusion, it is necessary to say that the Internet has an enormous impact on today’s political campaigns and elections. Due to the Internet revolution in our society, it is possible to change the nature of political communication from internal to external, from private to public. In addition, the Internet has an enormous impact on voters and helps to create and sell the politician’s image. Today the Internet can be viewed as the most effective tool for political communication.