Do media have more advantages or disadvantages

Political dialogue goes digital: The Pro & Cons in check

Digitization and the social web have produced completely new forms of communication and information - political dialogue has advantages and disadvantages as a result. Internet users generate content themselves and disseminate opinions and information (“User Generated Content”). With the unlimited possibility for everyone to reach a huge audience, the importance of the selection and gatekeeper function of journalistic media decreases at the same time. We examine the different ways of today's communication in our pro and contra check of political communication:

Social media communication

Per:

Every internet user can use social media to engage in journalistic activity as a layperson (“citizen journalist”) and thus also disseminate political information, opinions and comments - without barriers - to the network community. Social media, online forums and blogs are particularly widespread.

By means of user-generated content, it is practically possible for every internet user to take a position on political issues, present their own position in social networks or online communities, take part in discussions and, under certain circumstances, even activate other people on political issues.

In addition, the subsequent communication of the audience with which it reacts to the journalistically set topics is also visible in online media. Online communication therefore plays a major role in the formation of opinions and the social classification of topics.

Cons:

Not only democratic users benefit from the low hurdles. Politically radical and undemocratic content and viewpoints can also be easily disseminated on the Internet. From the elimination of journalistic gatekeeping, disseminators of hatred, agitation and inhuman statements (hate speech) also benefit to a particular extent.

Above all, this is aided by the fact that such opinions and statements can be disseminated anonymously on the Internet. Mandatory registrations of participants in political forums could help to increase the seriousness and seriousness, at least in such discussion forums.

In addition, politically disinterested people are not necessarily more enthusiastic about politics through digital media. A person who doesn't like football doesn't become a football fan simply because they are exposed to a huge flood of football news and discussions.

In this respect, the silent majority, despite online media, will continue to steer clear of political issues.

Direct contact with politicians and institutions

Per:

Closer to the voter - professional political actors (e.g. political parties, politicians or NGOs) can use digital media to bypass journalistic communication and direct communication offers to their target groups themselves. You can use it to put your own topics on the agenda, clarify your positions and show closeness and willingness to talk through discussions.

Communication costs can thus be reduced and at the same time relationships with (potential) voters can be established and strengthened.

Cons:

If top politicians communicate directly with citizens via social media, this can have negative effects on the parties in particular, as their importance as membership organizations is diminishing. In particular, the middle level of functionaries is affected by this, the importance of which is particularly badly affected when the prominent top executives are directly accessible to every citizen.

The digitization of democratic processes, on the other hand, experienced an upswing in 2021 with the first digital federal party conference with online votes by the CDU. Read the experience report now>

Digital elections: With POLYAS, political parties, colleges, chambers, cooperatives, universities, associations and companies vote online. Find out more about the POLYAS online voting!

Unlimited variety of information

Per:

Nowadays it is easier than ever to get political information. They are available in a seemingly endless number and also for every conceivable topic. Even the smallest niche topic is taken into account in online communication. This can go hand in hand with the fact that digitization is driving the social tendency towards ever greater individualization.

On the basis of a broader information base, voters will in future be able to decide even more individually from election date to election date which party best represents their interests.

Cons:

Due to the variety of topics and the use of non-journalistic, free sources, there is a risk of trivialization and a reduction in the quality of the information.

The biggest problem is therefore not a lack of information, but the selection of reputable sources. Reliable sources of information are more important to democracy than a large amount of information.

It also becomes difficult when the information jungle attracts greater attention to the topics that are shared or “liked” particularly frequently. The network community determines the news value and highlights particularly entertaining, surprising or funny topics. This creates the risk that the choice of parties on the basis of information is as non-binding as the "liking" of postings from friends and acquaintances.

transparency

Per:

Portals for better transparency, such as parliament watch, examine and question the parliamentary work of politicians. Citizens should have the opportunity to ask questions to the MPs directly via the portal. Overall, more transparency in politics should be achieved in this way.

Cons:

The data is also available without these portals, as they are publicly available. The portals only process this data visually and condense the wealth of information. However, the additional collection of individual questions and answers leads to an increase in the flood of information. This may make users all the more irritated and have difficulty keeping track of things.

Conclusion

Digital democracy comes with two faces. Knowing these and making use of them is becoming a compulsory task for internet users of the digital century. Only with the right understanding of the platforms and forms of communication can the digital dialogue with the political establishment be fruitful in the future.

Find out more about digital democracy now!