An album is a collection of related audio recordings, released together to the public, usually commercially.
The term record album originated from the fact that 78 RPM Phonograph disc records were kept together in a book resembling a photo album. The first collection of records to be called an "album" was Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite , release in April as a four-disc set by Odeon records. A music video also promo is a short film or video that accompanies a complete piece of music, most commonly a song. Modern music videos were primarily made and used as a marketing device intended to promote the sale of music recordings.
Although the origins of music videos go back much further, they came into their own in the s, when Music Television 's format was based on them. In the s, the term "rock video" was often used to describe this form of entertainment, although the term has fallen into disuse. Music videos can accommodate all styles of filmmaking, including animation , live action films, documentaries , and non-narrative, abstract film.
The Internet also known simply as "the Net" or less precisely as "the Web" is a more interactive medium of mass media, and can be briefly described as "a network of networks". Specifically, it is the worldwide, publicly accessible network of interconnected computer networks that transmit data by packet switching using the standard Internet Protocol IP.
It consists of millions of smaller domestic, academic, business, and governmental networks, which together carry various information and services, such as email , online chat , file transfer, and the interlinked web pages and other documents of the World Wide Web. Contrary to some common usage, the Internet and the World Wide Web are not synonymous: the Internet is the system of interconnected computer networks , linked by copper wires, fiber-optic cables, wireless connections etc. The World Wide Web is accessible through the Internet, along with many other services including e-mail, file sharing and others described below.
Toward the end of the 20th century, the advent of the World Wide Web marked the first era in which most individuals could have a means of exposure on a scale comparable to that of mass media. Anyone with a web site has the potential to address a global audience, although serving to high levels of web traffic is still relatively expensive. It is possible that the rise of peer-to-peer technologies may have begun the process of making the cost of bandwidth manageable. Although a vast amount of information, imagery, and commentary i. The invention of the Internet has also allowed breaking news stories to reach around the globe within minutes.
This rapid growth of instantaneous, decentralized communication is often deemed likely to change mass media and its relationship to society. A similar idea is expressed in the news industry as "convergence". Many authors understand cross-media publishing to be the ability to publish in both print and on the web without manual conversion effort. An increasing number of wireless devices with mutually incompatible data and screen formats make it even more difficult to achieve the objective "create once, publish many".
The Internet is quickly becoming the center of mass media. Everything is becoming accessible via the internet. Rather than picking up a newspaper, or watching the 10 o'clock news, people can log onto the internet to get the news they want, when they want it. For example, many workers listen to the radio through the Internet while sitting at their desk. Even the education system relies on the Internet. Teachers can contact the entire class by sending one e-mail.
They may have web pages on which students can get another copy of the class outline or assignments. Some classes have class blogs in which students are required to post weekly, with students graded on their contributions. Blogging , too, has become a pervasive form of media. A blog is a website, usually maintained by an individual, with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or interactive media such as images or video. Entries are commonly displayed in reverse chronological order, with most recent posts shown on top.
Many blogs provide commentary or news on a particular subject; others function as more personal online diaries. A typical blog combines text, images and other graphics, and links to other blogs, web pages, and related media. The ability for readers to leave comments in an interactive format is an important part of many blogs. Most blogs are primarily textual, although some focus on art artlog , photographs photoblog , sketchblog, videos vlog , music MP3 blog , audio podcasting are part of a wider network of social media. Microblogging is another type of blogging which consists of blogs with very short posts.
RSS is a format for syndicating news and the content of news-like sites, including major news sites like Wired , news-oriented community sites like Slashdot , and personal blogs. It is a family of Web feed formats used to publish frequently updated content such as blog entries, news headlines, and podcasts. An RSS document which is called a "feed" or "web feed" or "channel" contains either a summary of content from an associated web site or the full text.
RSS makes it possible for people to keep up with web sites in an automated manner that can be piped into special programs or filtered displays. A podcast is a series of digital-media files which are distributed over the Internet using syndication feeds for playback on portable media players and computers. The term podcast, like broadcast, can refer either to the series of content itself or to the method by which it is syndicated; the latter is also called podcasting.
The host or author of a podcast is often called a podcaster. Mobile phones were introduced in Japan in but became a mass media only in when the first downloadable ringing tones were introduced in Finland. Soon most forms of media content were introduced on mobile phones, tablets and other portable devices, and today the total value of media consumed on mobile vastly exceeds that of internet content, and was worth over 31 billion dollars in source Informa. The mobile media content includes over 8 billion dollars worth of mobile music ringing tones, ringback tones, truetones, MP3 files, karaoke, music videos, music streaming services etc.
In Japan mobile phone books are so popular that five of the ten best-selling printed books were originally released as mobile phone books. Similar to the internet, mobile is also an interactive media , but has far wider reach, with 3. Like email on the internet, the top application on mobile is also a personal messaging service, but SMS text messaging is used by over 2. Practically all internet services and applications exist or have similar cousins on mobile, from search to multiplayer games to virtual worlds to blogs. Mobile has several unique benefits which many mobile media pundits claim make mobile a more powerful media than either TV or the internet, starting with mobile being permanently carried and always connected.
Mobile has the best audience accuracy and is the only mass media with a built-in payment channel available to every user without any credit cards or PayPal accounts or even an age limit. A magazine is a periodical publication containing a variety of articles, generally financed by advertising or purchase by readers.
Magazines are typically published weekly , biweekly , monthly , bimonthly or quarterly , with a date on the cover that is in advance of the date it is actually published. They are often printed in color on coated paper , and are bound with a soft cover. Magazines fall into two broad categories: consumer magazines and business magazines. In practice, magazines are a subset of periodicals , distinct from those periodicals produced by scientific, artistic, academic or special interest publishers which are subscription-only, more expensive, narrowly limited in circulation, and often have little or no advertising.
A newspaper is a publication containing news and information and advertising, usually printed on low-cost paper called newsprint. It may be general or special interest, most often published daily or weekly. The most important function of newspapers is to inform the public of significant events. Recent developments on the Internet are posing major threats to its business model, however. Paid circulation is declining in most countries, and advertising revenue, which makes up the bulk of a newspaper's income, is shifting from print to online; some commentators, nevertheless, point out that historically new media such as radio and television did not entirely supplant existing.
The internet has challenged the press as an alternative source of information and opinion but has also provided a new platform for newspaper organizations to reach new audiences. Many commercial advertisers use this form of mass media when advertising in sports stadiums. Tobacco and alcohol manufacturers used billboards and other outdoor media extensively. However, in , the Master Settlement Agreement between the US and the tobacco industries prohibited the billboard advertising of cigarettes.
In a Chicago-based study, Diana Hackbarth and her colleagues revealed how tobacco- and alcohol-based billboards were concentrated in poor neighbourhoods. In other urban centers, alcohol and tobacco billboards were much more concentrated in African-American neighborhoods than in white neighborhoods. Mass media encompasses much more than just news, although it is sometimes misunderstood in this way.
It can be used for various purposes:. Journalism is the discipline of collecting, analyzing, verifying and presenting information regarding current events , trends , issues and people. Those who practice journalism are known as journalists. News -oriented journalism is sometimes described as the "first rough draft of history" attributed to Phil Graham , because journalists often record important events, producing news articles on short deadlines. While under pressure to be first with their stories, news media organizations usually edit and proofread their reports prior to publication, adhering to each organization's standards of accuracy, quality and style.
Many news organizations claim proud traditions of holding government officials and institutions accountable to the public, while media critics have raised questions about holding the press itself accountable to the standards of professional journalism. Public relations is the art and science of managing communication between an organization and its key publics to build, manage and sustain its positive image.
Examples include:. Publishing is the industry concerned with the production of literature or information — the activity of making information available for public view. In some cases, authors may be their own publishers. Traditionally, the term refers to the distribution of printed works such as books and newspapers.
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With the advent of digital information systems and the Internet , the scope of publishing has expanded to include websites , blogs , and the like. As a business , publishing includes the development, marketing , production , and distribution of newspapers, magazines, books, literary works , musical works , software , other works dealing with information. Publication is also important as a legal concept ; 1 as the process of giving formal notice to the world of a significant intention, for example, to marry or enter bankruptcy, and; 2 as the essential precondition of being able to claim defamation ; that is, the alleged libel must have been published.
A software publisher is a publishing company in the software industry between the developer and the distributor. In some companies, two or all three of these roles may be combined and indeed, may reside in a single person, especially in the case of shareware. Software publishers often license software from developers with specific limitations, such as a time limit or geographical region. The terms of licensing vary enormously, and are typically secret. Developers may use publishers to reach larger or foreign markets, or to avoid focussing on marketing.
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Or publishers may use developers to create software to meet a market need that the publisher has identified. A YouTuber is anyone who has made their fame from creating and promoting videos on the public video-sharing site, YouTube. Many YouTube celebrities have made a profession from their site through sponsorships, advertisements, product placement, and network support. The history of mass media can be traced back to the days when dramas were performed in various ancient cultures. This was the first time when a form of media was "broadcast" to a wider audience.
Movable clay type was invented in in China. However, due to the slow spread of literacy to the masses in China, and the relatively high cost of paper there, the earliest printed mass-medium was probably European popular prints from about Although these were produced in huge numbers, very few early examples survive, and even most known to be printed before about have not survived. The term "mass media" was coined with the creation of print media, which is notable for being the first example of mass media, as we use the term today.
This form of media started in Europe in the Middle Ages.
Professor Tony Bennett - Institute for Culture and Society - University of Western Sydney
Johannes Gutenberg 's invention of the printing press allowed the mass production of books to sweep the nation. He printed the first book, a Latin Bible, on a printing press with movable type in The invention of the printing press gave rise to some of the first forms of mass communication, by enabling the publication of books and newspapers on a scale much larger than was previously possible. Newspapers developed from about , with the first example in English in ;  but they took until the 19th century to reach a mass-audience directly.
We have used this approach in a number of studies and typically participants are able to reproduce spontaneously from memory the key themes which we have established as present in media accounts Briant et al. In the next section, we look specifically at media content. The media response to the financial crisis of and its aftermath illustrates the way in which competing ideologies battle for legitimacy. The key instigator to the crisis was that global banks had leant huge sums of money to inflated property markets, mainly in the USA but also in the UK and other parts of Europe.
These loans were often given to people and institutions that would not be able to repay them. It has been argued that the pursuit of profit, and disproportionate bonuses, meant that the deals were being pushed through, and risks ignored. As Elliot and Atkinson put it:. In January , panellists at the World Economic Forum in Davos were asked how the big banks of North America and Europe had failed to spot the potential losses from sub-prime lending. In the UK, the Labour party would have, in the past, been the political party most likely to criticise such a development and the behaviour that caused it.
For most of the twentieth century the Labour party was socially democratic and believed that free market profiteering should be curbed, that the people as a collective should own key sectors of industry and commerce and the rights of working people should be defended. However, after election defeats to the Conservatives in , , and , the Labour party rethought its brand and approach.
In doing so it adopted a very supportive policy towards the financial sector Philo, New Labour would have a bigger safety net for the poor and spend more on health and the public sector. Under Blair and his chancellor Gordon Brown later British Prime Minister the deregulation of the banks not only continued but was extended. The finance sector, based in London, is very powerful and can impose pressures on governments with the often repeated argument that it can be relatively mobile in response to less than favourable conditions within any nation state.
The City of London exerts substantial political power, perhaps more so than any other non-governmental sector, and even well-intentioned governments can be extremely nervous of very wealthy individuals and institutions that can move huge sums of money in and out of economies. The city of London is an extremely powerful institution, perhaps the most effective lobbyist, I think, in history.
But what was the impact of these social, political and commercial relationships on media coverage of the banking crisis? The bulk of the British press is privately owned and the free market and deregulation has consistently been supported by the Murdoch-owned press including The Sun and The Times as well as the conservative-leaning Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail.
The Daily Mirror is traditionally more left-wing, but also supportive of the Labour party. Whilst we also have to make the qualification that these are commercial businesses and have to connect with audiences in order to generate sales, it is the case that the majority of the mainstream press were pre-disposed to promote policies on the neo-liberal end of the spectrum. The case is more complex with the British public service broadcaster, the BBC, which is also a key supplier of public information through its television — and less so online — services. The range of political arguments which appear on the BBC are shaped by its own definition of democracy.
The basis for this is that the population vote for elected representatives and the BBC then features these representatives on television and radio and what they say constitutes the limits of democratic debate. In other words, TV debate is mostly limited to the views of the three main parties in Britain, the Conservative party, the Labour party and the Liberal Democrats. But since all of these have become wedded to free market philosophy, the discussion of alternatives to this approach becomes very sparse.
Therefore, across the majority of the media the bankers, private enterprise and high profits were celebrated. The economy appeared to be booming, house prices rose and the New Labour government had increased tax revenues to spend on health and education. The result of these factors is that when the crash occurred, those who appeared in the mainstream media to discuss solutions tended to be those who are most supportive of — or drawn from — the system which created the problems.
The British mainstream press did reflect the anger felt by its readers in response to the crash in , many of whom had pensions and savings which were potentially threatened. The Daily Mail roared from its front page:. But amidst the fury, there are no demands here for alternative solutions, such as taking back the bonuses through a wealth tax, or taking the bulk of the financial sector into public ownership.
This exclusion of debate about radical alternatives to cuts, such as taxing the bankers or other wealthy groups, is entirely irrespective of the potential popularity of these policies. This would reduce the deficit because government spending includes interest paid on the debt and because the proposal would avoid the cuts. Without these, there would be less unemployment and therefore more tax revenue. Such programmes often seek out what they see as extreme debate. These more radical solutions lay outside the media debate amongst those who were asked to contribute.
In essence, the message was that the bankers were indeed at fault but there is no alternative. As The Sun explains in this editorial:. Many will ask if it is right that tax payers are forced to subsidise irresponsible borrowers and greedy banks. But what was the alternative? Neither America nor Britain could stand by and watch their economies disintegrate.
The Sun , 20th September The argument is then taken further by David Cameron who, as Prime Minister, argued that we must stop attacking the bankers. In the Daily Telegraph he was reported as saying:. The Daily Telegraph , 15th January In the face of such structures of power, the media acts more as a release for frustration and discontent rather than a forum to explore potential alternatives. No transformation of the economy or the banking system is considered viable and the solution became simply to cut public spending — a key priority of the UK coalition government elected in The central justification for this was that welfare spending was too high.
The banking crash and the intrinsic problems of the economic systems were replaced in the public agenda with other issues allegedly requiring urgent solutions — and groups other than the bankers being the target of political action Briant et al. A key aspect of our method has also been to study media content and processes of audience reception simultaneously, in order to understand the way in which audiences negotiate their beliefs and attitudes in response to media messages. These messages are not received uniformly by all audiences, and the level of influence that they have varies greatly.
We have been interested in exploring the key factors in the capacity of audiences to accept or reject messages, and the consequences of this for the shaping of public understanding. In the Glasgow University Media Group undertook a study of UK news coverage and attitudes and beliefs about disability and disabled people Briant et al. This involved, firstly, a content analysis across comparable periods in and , designed to track changes in style, content or volume across media coverage of policy change relating to disability benefits and, in particular, to highlight media responses to the recent cuts made by the UK coalition government.
This work was complemented by an audience reception study to assess the way in which reporting was being negotiated by members of the public in terms of beliefs, perceptions and attitudes, and further to explore the key trends highlighted in the content study. The analysis showed that, across the sample periods, there had not only been a significant increase in the reporting of disability in the print media, but this increase had been accompanied by a shift in the way that disability was being reported. The subject had become more politicised and there had been a reduction in the proportion of articles which described disabled people in sympathetic terms, whilst those focusing on disability benefit and fraud had grown.
They were also very clear on what the intended message was — but there were disagreements over whether it was believed. The official figure is closer to 0.
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However, as these comments suggest, the assumption of its widespread nature was not always related to a certainty about those actually claiming fraudulently, but a perception supported by the belief that the system is very easily manipulated:. Or even bad backs. Speaker 3 : And if you want to defraud then Further, there was a great deal of resentment directed at the large numbers of people believed to be fraudulently claiming benefit:.
In this sense there was evidence that the media coverage, combined with the processes of logic that the system was easy to defraud and therefore it was likely that people would do it , and claims of knowledge about specific cases resulted in the development of beliefs about disability and fraud. On the other hand, disabled people themselves expressed significant anger at some of the press reporting and at the accusations linking disabled people with scrounging and fraudulent claims.
For some of these, the issue of disabled people not receiving the level of support they required was a bigger issue than fraud. In these cases, disabled people used their direct experience to reject the news message. Direct experience was therefore a substantial factor in the negotiation of the media message. The power of the media message tended to be heightened in those cases in which there was no direct experience or other knowledge of an issue, and conversely to decrease when people had direct experience.
In the disability study the large majority of those we spoke to had some experience of disability either through a close family member or close friends, many of whom had tried to get benefits and had failed. One participant, for example, talked about how hard it had been for her mother to get any benefits and another described the difficulties her partner had faced in trying to get access to the services he required. But this did not lead to a simple rejection of the of the media message — the power of the media message could remain and in fact, we found that audience members often held the two potentially competing beliefs at the one time — recognising the widespread and genuine hardships of disability but also believing that huge numbers were not deserving of benefits.
In a similar way, when we studied TV and press reporting of mental illness, we found that it focussed on violent incidents. People who worked in the area of mental health and who had professional experience tended to discount this media view and highlight that only a tiny minority of those with mental health issues were potentially violent. Yet there were also examples in which the fear generated by media coverage overwhelmed direct experience. In the following case a young woman described how she had worked alongside elderly people in a hospital.
There people were in no way dangerous or violent yet she was afraid of them because of what she had seen on television:. Not all of them were old, some of them were younger. Across these studies, thus, we found that a number of factors including direct experience, knowledge from other sources, logic and the generation of fear or anger contributed to the degree to which audiences accepted or rejected the media message. A consistent theme is that where there is a lack of alternatives presented, the message is much less likely to be rejected.
Overall, the mainstream media in the UK have given very little space to views beyond those offered by the main political parties. In relation to the financial crisis, this has reduced the range of responses to a choice between having cuts now, as offered by the current coalition government, or having them later, as offered by the Labour party.
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Whilst social changes at the level of the current transformation of the welfare system do not require public support, they are certainly facilitated by it, and just as crucially by the elimination of active opposition. This is primarily because governments constantly strive for electoral support. While the interplay of public opinion, policy implementation, and social change is complex, the media can often play a legitimising role.
In the next section, which looks at audience reception of media accounts of climate change, we introduce a further element to our analysis of media and social change: that of the key factors which influence individual and collective behaviour. In the Glasgow University Media Group conducted a major research project examining the impact of media coverage of climate change on audience understanding and engagement with climate change.
The climate policy objectives of the current coalition government in the UK revolve around de-carbonisation — a process which is enshrined in law through the Climate Change Act. But climate change is distinctive from other policy issues, such as, for example, the economic policies or welfare cuts already discussed, in that their success or failure lies to a significant degree with public participation, which goes way beyond attitudinal support of the policies.
Patterns in attitudes and belief need to be accompanied by the adoption of new behavioural patterns — and it is in these that social change will ultimately take place. There are a range of factors which have contributed to the shape of current reporting of climate change, which has been routinely criticised for its lack of clarity on the basic scientific arguments. There is evidence that there are powerful and well-resourced bodies operating to systematically undermine accurate media reporting in this area as part of the wider spread of climate scepticism.
In February , it was revealed by The Guardian that an anti-renewables media campaign was funded by secretive trusts linked to wealthy US and UK business people Goldenberg, The trusts have financed organisations which either dismiss climate science or downplay the need to take action. They have invested millions of dollars over the past decade in contrarian think tanks and activists to spread scepticism, and increasingly a part of this is the anti-renewables rhetoric.
Impact of Social Media on Political Mobilization in East and West Africa
As a result news reporting is increasingly shaped by this construction of polarisation and conflict, with the media, rather than the scientists, or even the politicians, setting the terms of the debate, meaning that the key scientific arguments upon which policy is based are constantly undermined. In addition to the polarised nature of coverage, since an equal if not greater problem is that the level of global and national media coverage has suffered a sharp decline Fischer, , reflecting a re-ordering of the political priorities since the economic crash.
This in turn affects media priorities, since politicians have a key role in setting agendas and highlighting issues for discussion. In previous work, we have shown the conditions under which new information is produced. The link between smoking and cancer has also clearly produced substantial behavioural change. But there are also examples in which new information does not produce such changes.
Our aim was to establish why new messages vary in their effects, and to identify the possible triggers for potential behavioural change. With this aim we developed methods which involved immersing our participants in a new information environment which we constructed. We conducted a series of focus groups across the UK, recruited on normal socio-demographic criteria.
All of the materials represented in differing forms and from differing perspectives three future scenarios which were developed through detailed research and consultation with experts in the related scientific field. The first scenario documented a mass flood in Bangladesh that leads to loss of land and the forced migration of millions of the population. Migrants initially journeyed to India but were turned away by border control agents and are eventually picked up in the Bay of Bengal by ferries chartered by the international community.
Many disperse to areas in Europe and it is reported that , are due to port in the UK city of Southampton where protestors are demonstrating against their arrival. The Centre for Democratic Development CDD also states that in spite of the relative freedom the media enjoy in Ghana, there are instances of threats and attacks on journalists and other media personnel when some individuals perceive some news reports to be negative and dishonorably exposing bad governance CDD, This situation casts doubt on the independence of the Kenyan traditional media and questions their capability to perform their normative duty Ogala Also worth noting is the fact that the media in Kenya have a adopted a more local content especially with the radio and television networks where information is presented in the various local dialect Ogala The implication here is a shift from the state-inspired self-censorship to information sharing and easy access to official government records via state websites and other vital online data about Kenya from outside the country.
Since the late s, citizens can freely tweet, blog, and discuss issues of national importance to them and their community without hindrance or direct state control. Uganda, unlike its East African neighbor, Kenya, is much stricter with the press Eckler and Kalyango As with all other measurable theoretical constructs, there are multiple ways of defining and conceptualizing mobilization. The definition of mobilization from a media or political communication perspective depends on the subfield and framework of the study. Goldstein and Ridout identified three main elements of mobilization in their work, which affects voter turnout among the citizens.
These elements are aggregate rate of mobilization, effective mobilization contact, and change in targeting of mobilization. They determined that mobilization carries with it the power to promote individual participation and the more intense it is the more effective and convincing it is, the more it gets people to participate in a process or vote. In other words, a decline reduces its net effect. Kernell and Jacobson p. A more scholarly argument for this phenomenon, according to Putnam , p. In Africa today, the massive acquisition of social media tools and the establishment of new media technologies has set the platform for self mobilization towards other networking groups for political as well as social mobilization Fair et al, For example, the Committee for Joint Action CJA in Ghana was able to mobilize thousands of sympathizers to organize a demonstration to press for the reduction of fuel prices in At the same time, with effective mass mobilization, citizens become contributors to governance and shareholders in government due to their mediated involvement in the decisions of the state Roberts, ,p Citizen participation, according to Langton , includes four types: citizen action such as lobbying and protest, citizen involvement such as public hearings and citizen surveys, electoral participation such as voting and campaigning for political candidates, and obligatory participation such as paying taxes and performing jury duty.
Langton , p. Throughout the s, 70s, and 80s, some of the major organizers and mass mobilizers of communities for political engagements included churches, artists, universities and other tertiary institutions, professional social engineers, other advocacy groups. There are specific situations where political mobilizers employed strategies of inducement with material elements and promised recruiters and citizens to participate in a process.
Yet, according to Martz and Baloyra , material inducements were simply not enough in some cases. With reinforcement, mobilizers on certain occasions exerted maximum effort in turning out party or group faithful without necessarily inducing them with material elements. Gone are the days when the primary efforts of mass mobilization for any political activity were through party structures and the traditional civil society community organization. The role the solid grass-root support for civic engagement has changed overtime due to the new era information socially engineered online communication technologies, which have generated new virtual netizen armies that cheaply engage in mass political and electoral mobilization.
These virtual social and political mobilizers include diverse groups of ordinary citizens with varying political, socioeconomic, practical interests and backgrounds. By the number of regimes with constituted multiparty politics had increased to45 out of 53 countries Thomson, , Uhlaner asserted that political participation sought to influence government policy outcomes but the form of outcome and influence was always not clear.
Uhlaner argued that citizens choose either direct or indirect forms of political participation or both to influence policy outcomes. Elections were also used in the past to mobilize citizens in order to legitimize the actions of political representatives in both the legislative and executive branches of government Stone, In the Western industrialized world, the influence on policy outcome is increasingly coming from mass mobilization through social networks. For instance in the United States, social media engage citizens in local and national political activities, including voluntary and involuntary engagement in partisan activities such as rallies, protests, demonstrations, virtual or physical meetings, and donation of money to candidates or political causes.
Citizens from Western nations write or verbally communicate with political leaders to draw attention to their sociopolitical concerns, and they also partake in some form of political or policy discussions. How do netizens in Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya and Uganda perceive the role of social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, and YouTube in mobilizing them to participate in the political discourse, which engages in issues of national significance? The study employs semi-structured online in-depth interviews with 16 Ghanaian citizens, 14 Ivorian citizens, 14 Ugandans and 16 Kenyans who are very active social media users.
These very active social media users are forthwith conceptualized as netizens. In this study, a netizen is conceptually described as an Internet resident who engages in at least two of the following habits: one who habitually uses it for personal gratification as well as for social change, but not necessarily an addict; one who uses it as a communication medium for consuming public and commercial content, generating either fictional, satirical, or nonfictional content; and one who uses it to disseminate primary and secondary content with close friends and to the general public.
On average, the majority of participants in this study responded that they spend three hours a day—four days a week—on the Internet. This is considered a huge investment of time and money, since the majority of Africans interviewed here pay about USD 1. A total of 60 netizens from the four countries interviewed while they were online on the following social media sites: 12 netizens on Friendster, 18 on Facebook, 16 on MySpace, and 14 via audio or video Skyping. Participants selected for the interviews were 12 women netizens and 18 men.
All participants in this study are of African descent and reside in the four countries. Some of the participants had either previously participated in a national political activity in the past year or commented on national politics via either their personal blogs or social media pages. The selection of who participated in this study was equally important and the recruitment was based on purposive strategy, which intentionally selected research participants who were active on social media sites and were willing to offer perspectives on political issues without fear of retaliation in their home countries.
This approach is supported by Esterberg who argued that a carefully chosen subject pool allows researchers to explore different experiences among various individuals or groups. All the semi-structured online in-depth interviews were conducted between December 1, and February 20, Each interview lasted for about 90 minutes, with both the researcher and the subject respondent online at the same time. In-depth interviewing provides a flexible platform for the researcher to tap into the knowledge and opinions of the human subject or source on a particular topic of interest.
Webber and Byrd , p. The research design here follows the conventional qualitative in-depth interview data collection that most researchers opt to use by not setting out with pre-formulated hypotheses. This approach permits the ambivalences to surface as the human subjects interviewed here narrated their account.
The ten structured questions were pretested in January on three users on Friendster, three on MySpace, and five Facebook users to check the utility of those questions for eliciting the in-depth information sought Webber and Byrd, As a result of this pretesting, three questions were appropriately refined. This also increased familiarity with possible interview process and outcomes which encouraged a more online conversational tone and better data outcome.
After agreeing consent to the research exercise, the first six open-ended questions were asked to draw out responses and to elicit follow-up discussion from the netizens. The participants were asked questions that elicited their attitudes towards government once they learn about their respective government via social media, and whether there opinions are primarily shaped by what they learn via the internet a list of other options other than a social medium are spelled out as alternatives.
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These questions explored the potential impacts of these social media outlets on these particular netizens. All these issues are relevant to gaining the most holistic understanding of the role of this increasingly popular interactive medium. Though in-depth interviews can be used for different kinds of research purposes, one of the key elements of this research approach as used by is its ability to elicit responses from the emotional experiences of informants.
Another justification for interviewing subjects online that are active in social media is the online ability to capture attitudes not adequately and typically collected in traditional face-to-face interviews or survey research Hochschild, ; Berg, ; Esterberg, Researchers did not stick strictly with the structured questions but followed them up with more questions depending on the direction of the online responses from the social media users.
It should be noted that the researchers steered the interview back on the conceptual purpose whenever there was an obvious digression. The researchers avoided follow-up questions that would give clues to the respondent of what the study aimed to achieve from the data.
Also avoided were any online social interaction traps of engaging in confrontations with sources that could possibly taint the data. We learn from these data that social media networks, specifically, Friendster, MySpace, Facebook have helped African netizens to perform the crucial function of keeping in touch with people from around the world. They also connect with distant others including leaders and policy makers who are otherwise not easily reachable by any other means. Responds overwhelming state that social media platforms provide an enabling environment for low cadres to network with middle class and very wealthy netizens through mutual social networks to collectively discuss familiar communal obstacles, shared opportunities, mutual social events, and shared ideological politics.
Now, I protested the elections because of what I read about our corrupt former president on the Internet site here. I was part of our revolution and it started here with us who were on the website and my Facebook friends. Most importantly, Facebook and Twitter receive record number hits in African nations during major sporting and political events such as the World Cup, Africa Cup of Nations, and one week before and after the general presidential elections.
The majority of Ghanaian and Ugandan netizens said they used social networks to keep in touch with close friends, to make new friends, and to learn about other sociopolitical developments and distant cultures. Also, they said that they were more comfortable with joining the international online community in order to post political statements about their governments.
This exploratory study supports previous research, which have claimed that people use social networks to build social capital, social contacts, and self-esteem Ellison et al. Netizens indicated that they experience unlimited freedom and autonomy from state intimidation, and as such they build selfesteem through communicating with others and building local and international contacts with whom they share common interests and opportunities. Some netizens from Kenya and Ghana said that they have learned from the social network sites how they can get involved in political activism to make the government respond to their needs the way ordinary Egyptians and Tunisians effected political change.
Kwon and Yen found social networking sites to be an innovative relationship-building system, while Ellison and others determined that social media were a tool for social bridging. My mobile phone can sms and beep [texting] anyone in the world. Check this out… I can even send my photos using this phone. The next thing I will do is to address my issues to our president on the YouTube website channel. I will do it this year to fulfill my dream . Building political and social capital is considered by some scholars to be the primary use of social networking sites such as Facebook and Myspace DiMicco et al.
Some netizens said that the African youths and university students were the foremost users of social networks, essentially to maintain social contacts, build a network of international virtual friends and seek political awareness about their own governments and global politics. People also tend to increase their use of social networks when they realize that old friends who were no longer in touch can be brought back into this interactive virtual discourse through social network sites Kwon and Wen, That is a signal for effective political mobilization. According to our findings, Africans who like to project themselves into the spotlight, are somewhat educated, and can afford or have access to the Internet, do find social networks to be useful.
They are considered important mobilizing factors for Africans who wish to engage in national political discourse. The implications from this exploratory study here are that using social media as mobilizing tools for social change in the national political discourse is an important facet of pride and fulfillment. Netizens said that many of the peers still enjoy using their mobile phones to directly phone in to political talk shows on either radio or television.