Politicians are part of a new type of audience. They are public figures, but they are also an audience with a willingness to interact with journalists. Although they have their peculiarities, which explains why they should be seen as distinct from other users.
Politics is strongly related to the media’s influence; although, it is debatable whether the media is influenced by politicians or if the converse is true. However, it is clear that since politicians and opinion makers are aware of news corporations’ importance, they have adapted their message to the ‘media rules’. Members of Parliament (MP’s) have even adapted their speeches in parliamentary sessions in order to garner media attention (Kepplinger, 2002). It is certainly true that politicians and opinion makers need the media to convey their message to the citizenry and that therefore they try to adapt their message to journalistic demands. Otherwise they would enjoy little media attention and their message would not reach the wider sphere (Kepplinger, 2002).
This effort is referred to as “political mediatization”. Martínez Nicolás et al. (2014: 43) define mediatization as a “process where the media was able to achieve influence over political life until they themselves became important institutions due to their role in the regulation of same”. Schulz (2013: 5) agrees with Kepplinger (2002) and Martínez Nicolás et al. (2014) on politicians’ dependence on the media; but, he adds that with the advent of new technologies and the new communicative environment politicians try to avoid the media filter and instead communicate their own message themselves: “Political actors can bypass the filtering and gatekeeping of mass media, thus evading media powers”. These new communication possibilities –brought about by new technologies– are seen as a great opportunity by politicians.
Traditionally those politicians that sought to convey a message to citizens, had to bypass media filtering. Nonetheless, political communication has moved forward due to technological elements such as social media or webpages. Hence, through their own media (politicians’ social network profiles or political party webpages) these actors can send a direct message to citizens, although what they send is a message which lacks objectivity. There is no objectivity in politicians’ messages because their purpose: is to convince users of their ideas (Deltell and Martínez Torres, 2014; Wilson, 2011). Meanwhile, journalism has the aim of informing people about what is happening. So, in journalism there is no interest beyond the informing of people of reality. Caldevilla (2009: 39) underlines this potential of the digital atmosphere where citizens can “receive first-hand information with no editors or news directors involved”.
How social media break the traditional media system and change the way politicians share and interact with citizenship, it will be seen among this paper.
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