Politicians’ use of social media and its impact on journalism

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.

Palabras clave

journalism media politicians politics social media

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Casandra López Marcos

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    • profile avatar

      Cristina Fernández-Rovira

      Comentó el 12/12/2020 a las 12:46:27

      Dear Casandra,
      Your work is very interesting, congratulations. According to your research experience on the field, I would like to know if you consider that the traditional role of the media as a gatekeeper is being lost, and what consequences this may have in the future, given that nowadays politicians with many followers in social media networks may feel that they can win elections without the "filter" of the media.
      Thank you very much. Kind regards.


      • profile avatar

        Casandra López Marcos

        Comentó el 25/12/2020 a las 19:08:39

        Dear Cristina,

        Thank you so much indeed for your comment. Regarding your question, it is true that since the advent of social media somehow news media have lost partially their power as a gatekeeper. However, in the era of fake news more than ever journalistic practices are important and even though politicians can 'skip' that filter the credibility of their message is called into question. In consequence, journalism is more necessary than ever as a guarantor of trustworthy information.

        Kindest regards


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      Luiz Cláudio Gomes Maia

      Comentó el 11/12/2020 a las 19:49:02

      A atividade de comunicação sempre fez parte da política principalmente nas interações humanas. As redes sociais tem velocidade e dinanismo para ser o elemento mais importante no aspecto político nos dias atuais. Parabéns pelo artigo.


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      Sara García Caballero

      Comentó el 11/12/2020 a las 16:08:29

      Hello Cassandra, I find very interesting your proposal on media rules and political communication, the filters that can bypass these figures to convince their subjective messages through social networks is a fact, but I would like to know what methodology you will use in the work, if you will carry out surveys or analyze the contents of the websites and social networks, what figures you will study and why you choose these and not others, if we speak in national or international terms and what you think the future lines of research may be, as well as the possible results.
      Thanks again for your input. As a note, I wanted to tell you that I miss an explanatory video about the more technical issues and the process that has led you to carry out the research, but still, I wanted to tell you that full communication is necessary in the current context.
      Thank you and a greeting.


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