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Day to Day Politics: When did it all go wrong? Part three – Electronic Media.

Sunday 25 September 2016

“The media’s the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power. Because they control the minds of the masses.”Malcom X.

Facebook makes you dive into humanity, hear things you do not want to hear, and defend what you have to say. It is for those with opinions or for those without the courage to share them. And fence sitters of course. It attracts the reasoned the unreasoned the civil and the uncivil. The biased and the unbiased. It is for people with ideas and sadly those without any. It whispers or shouts dissent. But mostly it’s a society of our own creation.

It is a medium that has the unique forum for introducing strangers by preference of choice, appreciation of character, acceptance by consent, and mutuality. It is rare to witness impersonal contact in society, and to be given the ability to employ friendship that is informal and mutually acceptable is rare.

I am by nature inquisitive although spontaneous introduction is not a problem. I find that Facebook provides an invaluable introduction to people from all around the world that I probably would never have achieved in normal circumstances.

The impact of the mass media that has evolved since the birth of the internet cannot be ignored, informing, forming and misinforming political opinion of the masses.

In essence public opinion is created by mass communication media and, as a result of it, most people delegate their own vision of the political reality to what the mass media imposes on them.

We are not thinking, mass media thinks for us. We are not what we think; we are what they think we are. Two years ago the Australian government threatened its public servants with disciplinary measures including dismissals if they made comments or if they expressed political opinion on social media. The government was prepared to spend more than $42 million to control social media and investigate cases where political opinion was adverse. This was at the time a clear invasion of privacy and a restriction of freedom of speech. I remember saying then that the government could save that money by asking for my phone number straight away.

Social Media and Participation

One of the most relevant characteristics of social media is the direct and instant participation of users in the political, social and economic reality. Users are exercising real power by interacting through online comments, blogs and the publication of articles on independent websites and blogs. The online participation of common citizens in the social and political issues, balance or to some extent neutralise the power of the old means of mass communication, because citizens are now not passive spectators of the reality but part of it. Citizens did not have the right to exercise their power by expressing their opinion on social issues in old media. On the contrary they were selectively ignored by mass media”. Opinion has triumphed, the populace can now express a view on anything and everything in real-time.

No wonder Abbott wanted to destroy it. People today extensively are losing faith in the old media because they can test reality by their own means online. People are becoming part of reality rather than mere viewers.

Social Media and Hope

There are many hopes and fears surrounding the “virtual” democracy in the emerging of the Internet Age.

Much debate revolves around whether the distinctive structure and interactive format of the internet will provide a genuinely new form of political mobilization, enticing the dissent into public life, producing a more egalitarian democracy, or whether its primary function will be to reinforce those who are already most active through conventional channels like social organizations, community groups and parties”. One of the benefits, or hopes, of public participation in social media is that it might create a more authentic democracy as people can express their political views in a direct way and make it public.

One of the pitfalls however is that it has emboldened the feral right of our community and anyone who has experienced their wrath can attest to their vileness.

It has given voice to the extreme right, people like Bernardi who use social media to exploit and mould public opinion. Those who wouldn’t have warranted a by-line in old media now find their unsavoury views saturated on social media.

It is of course not unfavourable to the left. People like ‘’Getup’’ have an enormous following. One which Cory Bernardi is desperately trying to replicate.

Into the future Social Media will play a greater part in how political news is disseminated and it will be in their own self-interest for Facebook, Twitter and others to service them.

How it will affect our Democracy is not yet known. We can only hope that fairness and truth will prevail.

Mt thought for the day.

“It is far better to form your own independent opinions relative to your life experience and reason, than to allow yourself to be blindly led by others”.

PS: My next post in this series – ‘The shock jocks’.

Previous installments:

Day to Day Politics: Where did it all go wrong? Part one.

Day to Day Politics: When did it all go wrong? Part two – Newspapers.


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  1. wam

    Good, read today, Lord!
    I think, with the credibility of print on the wane, the day of murdoch depends on control of social media and the rise of foxtel news.
    ‘If an opinion is based on personal experience and journalist’s perceived research?
    Who decides ‘blindly led or agree with’?
    The ‘ordinary’ baby boomers, on my facebook, have absolute faith that america saved us from the japanese(and post incredible right wing rubbish with the comments ranging from ‘see what is happening’ to ‘I just like the words’), pig-iron bob saved us from the communists and that the libs are the saviours of our economy ruined by whitlam, keating and gillard. All are untrue but have have the ‘modicum’ of truth needed for belief.
    Do we need to wait for their demise to debunk their theories??

  2. helvityni

    The Coalition is ruining Australia, economically, and morally; they are nothing but self-serving school yard bullies.

    Why didn’t they bring the asylum seekers to mainland to be speedily assessed, they turned helpless all of a sudden because it suited them…

    They gave millions to Cambodia, they treated asylum seeker issue as a secret men’s business.

    I was ashamed of Turnbull’s talk in NY.

  3. helvityni

    Oops, my post above was meant to appear on John Ward’s article of yesterday, the Nutt case post…under Jane’s reply.

  4. Terry2

    For reasons best known to themselves [and a mystery to the rest of us] News Corp persist in having Gerard Henderson write a weekly column in the Weekend Australian : normally Henderson is having a rant about perceived bias on the part of the ABC – this may be the key to why they bother to publish him.

    In this weekends’ effort Henderson is again sinking a boot into the Monday night ABC Q&A program which I personally find to be a refreshing platform for an audience – described by Henderson as an “invariably left stacked baying audience” – of average Australians to question a panel frequently made up of celebrities (writers, commentators, performers and others including visiting international guests) and an equal and balanced numbers of domestic politicians.

    Because of the constant claims by Henderson and others of left bias the ABC were some time ago forced to show onscreen the makeup of their audience based on their declared voting preference and frequently this shows that LNP voters outnumber other political preferences – obviously they lie !

    But, the “baying left” remain a problem for Henderson and in commenting on last Monday’s program he now supports his theory of bias by counting the number of words that left and right wing panel respondents use to reply to questions : Magda Szubanski for instance evidently had a 172 word response on marriage equality and the plebiscite and when questioned by Tony Jones a further 123 words: this is contrasted with 62 words from Fiona Nash, Deputy Leader of the Nationals.

    This according to Henderson set the pattern for the program with Jimmy Barnes joining Magda and Tony Burke in condemning the government’s plebiscite proposal*.

    I agree with Henderson on one point only and that is that there needs to be balance when it comes to the number of politicians invited onto the program but when, as he appears to be saying, other guests like Szubanski and Barnes need to be balanced with comedians and rockers of different political persuasions and that the audience needs to be further interrogated on their beliefs, it is at that point that Gerard has gone off the dial and his views and opinions cease to be relevant or make a useful contribution.

    It’s interesting how those of a Right wing persuasion say that they support freedom of speech and freedom of political communication but, in practice what they are saying is that their voices and their views should dominate all such speech and alternative voices should be silenced.

    * claimed to be an election promise for which the coalition have an inviolable mandate : odd that !

  5. Lord John

    For a world perspective I highly recommend everyone watch the comprehensive week night ABC show news program at 10 pm simply called The World.

  6. Jack Straw

    I am not sure who is a more sadly deranged fundamentalist Gerard Henderson or Andrew Bolt?I do know they’re both beyond help.

  7. Lynette Henderson

    What are the title of part 2 and part 1?

  8. Möbius Ecko

    Quietly slipping by is yet another back down by Turnbull. After flagging a change to the GST a couple of months ago he’s now stating it will be years before any reform is addressed.

  9. Michael Taylor

    Lynette, I’ll put in the links to the other parts a bit later.

  10. Joan Day

    Social Media has given voice to the wider Global Community. It was initially intended as a Social platform, for people around the Globe, to reach out, become friends and share common interests.

    It has since evolved into further dimensions. Giving voice to the unheard masses, around the globe, exposed to, or witness to, injustice and corruption. It has become a vehicle that the Global Community, uses with dexterity and proficiency, to expose grievances, corruption and injustices. Anything and everything, that piques the individual’s interest will be shared. It has been such a resounding success, that Businesses, Corporations, News Media, Governments, not wanting to be left behind, have opted to avail itself of this Social platform.

    Governments, thus far, have been unable to control, influence, or regulate this Social Platform and divest it of the neutrality and freedom responsible for its resounding success.

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