Sunday, February 1, 2009

The New Communications Channel For Politics

There have been a few of times in American history when forces align to create an explosion of political innovation and transformational change. In these periods the politics of the older era quickly breaks down and a new mode of politics quickly emerges as Americans of that era step up and rise to the occasion.

Obama's campaign solidified an era of new politics that is based on the new technologies of the internet and the new media of the web to activate a new era of progressive constituencies like the young Millennial Generation.

In parallel with, or perhaps because of the Obama campaign, the internet emerged in 2008 as the leading source for news, surpassing all other media except television as the preferred communication channel, according to a Pew Center research report released on December 23, 2008.

The Pew Center survey found that for the first time more people rely on the internet (40%) than newspapers (35%) for news among all age groups. Television continues to be cited most frequently as a main source for among all age groups, but for young people the internet now rivals even television as a main source of all news. Nearly six-in-ten Americans younger than 30 (59%) say they get most of their national and international news online. This mirrors a trend seen throughout 2008 in campaign news consumption.

In an October 2008 Pew Center survey the percent of people who say they look to the internet for their political campaign news tripled among all age groups from 10% in October 2004 to 33% in October 2008. Among younger Americans ages 18 to 29, however, more people (49%) mention the internet as mention newspapers (17%) as a main source of election news. Nearly half of all Americans (46 percent) say they regularly received news about political campaigns, share political views or mobilize others to action using the internet and cell-phone text messaging.

Further, substantial numbers of those younger than age 30, particularly those ages 18-24, say they received campaign and candidate information from social networking sites such as MySpace and FaceBook during 2008. This age demographic also heavily relied on online video streaming and video posting sites to watch campaign debates, speeches and commercials. Over half of people under age 30 watched at least one form of campaign video online during 2008.

In this video Peter Leyden from the Next Agenda project gives a talk to the staff at YouTube on the technology-driven paradigm shift that is transforming politics in the 21st Century. If you have an hour, the video is well worth the watch.

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