Last week, The Mackinac Center hosted a panel discussion with John Fund, Frank Beckmann, Kathy Hoekstra, Ken Braun and Henry Payne on the topic of The Alternatives: “How New Media are Transforming the Political Landscape”. You can watch it yourself by going to the Mackinac Center website, and I encourage you to do so, because each of their prepared remarks were very insightful as to how blogs, talk radio, and Fox are changing the way that the media affects the political system. I’m not going to repeat their remarks, but I would like to elaborate on and comment on some of the things that they said during their discussion.
As I tell my students, the media plays several important roles in the political process in our country, and one of the most important roles that it plays is to be the gatekeeper of the news. This means that there is news, information, analysis, and events occurring, but it is The Media that controls what is allowed through the gate into people’s homes. In the past, traditional media controlled that gate and as such could pick and choose what it wanted people to hear, and frequently traditional media would pick and choose based not on the importance of the news event or the quality of analysis, but rather on the bias and prejudices of the gatekeeper. The new media, such as blogs, Fox, and talk radio, have broken down those gates and widened them, so now the public has considerably greater access to the news in our nation, and that means will be more able to stay in touch with events, read different points of view or analysis, and get direct access to the sources that the old traditional media used to have a monopoly on.
Frank Beckmann pointed out the impact that the changing of the gatekeeper role will have on our nation when he talked about how today, because of the new media and the ease of access to it, political power is now returning back to the people and allowing the citizens of our nation incredible access to information. This access to information and analysis has been a contributing factor in the Tea Party movement, where citizens are accessing and reading proposed legislation and discussing it and analyzing it and then attempting to communicate their opinions about that legislation to their Congressman. In the past that information and analysis was controlled and biased and not fully accessible and Congressman could pass a bill without reading it and never be called out by a citizen, but that was the past, and the new media is changing that landscape.
Another interesting tidbit that I heard from John Fund was about the important role and power that citizen journalists are playing in today’s political system. In the past, you had to spend long years going through liberal Ivy League schools and learning both the trade and the slant before you could become a journalist, but with the advance of flip-phones, blogs, youtube, and the internet, anyone can be a journalist. Even a public school teacher like me has the potential to break important stories and bring the news to do you, reporting on events (like this one) that the traditional media ignores or doesn’t know about. The power of information has flowed to us, the citizens, and it is up to us to seize it.
My blog is the new media, and I believe that it is within my power to change the political landscape for the better. All I need is readers, and that is where you come in. If you haven’t already linked to my blog from yours, please do so. If you haven’t made my blog one of your favorites or bookmarks, please do so. You don’t have to read my blog every day (mom, I’m talking to you), but you should read it at least once a week, otherwise you are ceding back to the old media the gatekeeper and watchdog and information resource roles that the new media like me have struggled so hard to grasp. Let’s change our habits and change the direction of our nation by changing the ways that we access the news and information and analysis of the world- let’s all jump on the new media bandwagon.
John Fund is the author of Stealing Elections: How Voter Fraud Threatens Our Democracy andHow the Obama Administration Threatens to Undermine Our Elections.
UPDATE: By the way, congratulations to fellow bloggers theblogprof and Michigan Taxes Too Much, both of whom were mentioned by name for the contributions they have made in changing the political landscape recently. We’ve got quite a powerful little group of bloggers here in Michigan, and we’re lucky to have them!
Original Post: A Conservative Teacher