As the third oldest profession in the world, politics is considered to lose its attraction gradually especially to the young people who grew up in the new media generation. In my opinion, the reason partly lies in the over exposure to the public including privacy life traced by the new media hidden in everywhere as a politician. The open platform built by the new media technology draws more attention and interactive passion from the public than the traditional media as well as it brings more attacks and vilification to the politicians.
New media made a whole new political communication environment. The proliferation of media outlets as well as the breakdown of old restraints in both media and politics, plays an inescapable role in U.S. domestic politics, helping to shape agendas and create (or destroy) politicians. In Washington, one of the greatest divides amongst the young and old is whether or not new technologies are viewed as positive or negative additions to the political arena. Naturally, an overwhelming majority of young people see the potential in online social networks and bookmarking sites like Digg, Facebook, Reddit, Propeller, etc, but when it comes to many who belong to the “old guard,” there seems to be great fear and resentment, most likely because they don’t know how it can be used against them. (Thomas Keeley, July 17th, 2008)
Since Drudge’s website broke Clinton sex scandal in 1998, more and more politicians found themselves stepping into a new perils created by cell phone, internet and other new media technology. In the Mark Foley scandal which broke in late September 2006, the exposed soliciting e-mails and sexually explicit instant messages sent by Mark Foley, a Republican Congressman from Florida, to teenaged boys who had formerly served as congressional pages, led the resign of Foley. This year, new media open the politician to attacks one more time. Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and his chief of staff testified in a police whistle-blower trial last summer that they didn’t have an affair. But the following exposed romantic and sexually explicit text messages suggested they lied under oath.
These examples were in their own ways signs of the kind of unruly new age in American politics. Each originally percolated in the world of new media — Web sites and news outlets that did not exist a generation ago — before charging into the traditional world of newspapers and television networks. In any generation, the disclosure of Foley’s sexual overtures to teenage boys would have been a big story and ended his public career. But it was the confluence of new media trends and a trench-warfare mentality pervading national politics that turned the story into a round-the-clock furor. (John F. Harris, October 6, 2006) The dramatically changes in media culture have influenced the strategies and daily routines of leading political figures.
However, on the other hand, the changed media culture that creates new perils for politicians also provides new forms of stage. When some politicians are in fear of the attacks from the new media, some others are taking advantage of it. With hypocrisy in some sense, a few politicians don’t really attempt to keep their private lives private because they know that the typical “politician’s private life” story from new media are always attractive to most citizen.
posted by Hao Zhou
Originally posted September 23, 2008 at PolicyByBlog