Presidential media trends
Last updated 1-15-09 at 1:18 p.m.
by Stacy Nguyen
By Ryan Pangilinan
Northwest Asian Weekly
These days, it’s easy to take television and Internet media
for granted. A poll doesn’t need to be done to determine how
much daily information is gained from either reading news on MSN.com
or by watching “The Daily Show.” Slowly, Americans are
pulling away from traditional formats such as radio and daily newspapers
and moving on to their streamlined TV and online counterparts.
Of course, these trends have been happening for
quite sometime. Take, for example, John F. Kennedy’s Jan. 25
press conference in 1961: As radio died and TV became more accessible,
Kennedy realized that this medium could be used to communicate to
Americans in real time. On that day, he made history by holding the
first televised press conference in the United States.
“Kennedy showed that all commun-ication, even presidential
communication, must be relational,” wrote Roderick P. Hart
and Mary Triece, who chronicled major presidential events for the
Museum of Broadcast Communications’ (MBC) Encyclopedia of Television.
Kennedy’s move to television allowed average Americans to essentially
be in the same room with him without having newspaper reporters or
radio personalities paraphrasing the president’s words.
Similar to Kennedy’s bold move, President-elect Barack Obama
was able to utilize a media tool like the Internet as a part of his
campaign strategy. While McCain ran on a more traditional platform,
which appealed to baby boomers and those afraid of technology, Obama
had a MySpace page and created a high profile Web site in the form
In embracing technology and creating an Internet
persona to communicate with Americans, Obama has started to reveal
himself as a capable person.
“The Obama organization continues to turn the political machine
on its ear and continues to shake the conventional wisdom of ‘political
strategy,’” wrote Rick Turoczy in a blog post titled “Obama’s
Social Media Advantage, Act II.”
“If Change.gov is any indication, the use of social media appears
to have been much more than a gimmick for Obama. It appears to have
truly been a means of embracing change.”
But it should be noted that because of trailblazers
like Kennedy — or even Bill Clinton and his 1992 MTV appearance
in which he admitted to using marijuana — Obama’s platform
isn’t necessarily doing anything particularly fresh, but is
rather reinventing the wheel.
The television has largely been replaced by the
Internet; rather than avoiding the medium, Obama used it accordingly
and won the popular vote by creating an ubiquitous image online.
Though the Internet has been around for 15 years
or so, many people view it in relation to pornography, Ebay.com,
or viral videos. Obama is the first presidential candidate who fully
embraced technology and used it to put himself on equal footing with
the rest of the country, echoing Kennedy’s use of TV as the
great equalizer in the 1960s.
If anything, it’ll be interesting to see where campaign strategies
will go from here on out. (end)
Information from“Obama’s Social Media Advantage, Act
II” by Rick Turoczy (ReadWriteWeb.com; Nov. 6, 2008) and “U.S.
Presidents and Television” by Roderick P. Hart and Mary Triece
(MBC’s Encyclopedia of Television) contributed to this report.
Ryan Pangilinan can be reached at email@example.com.
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