Television's effect on the Political Process

Essay by Anonymous UserCollege, UndergraduateA, November 1996

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The introduction of television and its components into the political process has greatly influenced politics. Television has given politicians a whole new way to communicate and express their beliefs to voters. There are a few significant effects that this form of media has had on the political process.

Firstly, television tends to make political life more fluid and volatile. Outcomes are much harder to predict with campaigns now because a single performance before a huge audience can easily end or precipitate issues almost instantaneously. For instance, during the 1988 federal election, John Turner's TV debate performance resurrected the Liberal party and almost made them win the election. If it wasn't for the televised debate, the Liberals would have surely been doomed.

Television also forces much of the backstage machinery of political life to endure extremely heavy exposure, making it much more open than it used to be. Prior to the TV, politicians and their associates were only known by their public appearances and campaigns, leaving what happened outside these appearances in the dark.

Because of TV and the candid camera, the politicians and the elections can be looked at in more depth now. Political party conventions and other 'behind the scene' events can now be televised and shown to the general public.

The nationalization of politics is also a result stemming mainly from television. Because the party leader is the main person seen on TV, politics at the riding level tends to suffer greatly. Voters do not really care about who is running in their riding; they are more concerned about the party leader that they want to see as Prime Minister. Pollsters have a similar effect in that the viewers see how the party is doing nationally, which may persuade the undecided voters to vote for that...