Obama made his remarks on new media and politics during an interview he conducted with author Marilynne Robinson published in the New York Review of Books. They discussed her books, and his own reflections on politics that He lamented the fact that people can turn to alternative sources of news, instead of the centralized media landscape of old making his administration more difficult. (The link: http://www2.nybooks.com/articles/s3/2015/nov/19/president-obama-marilynne-robinson-conversation-2.html)
Obama said “You can argue that that’s part of the reason why our politics has gotten so polarized, is that—when I was growing up, if the president spoke to the country, there were three stations and every city had its own newspaper and they were going to cover that story…and that would last for a couple of weeks, people talking about what the president had talked about.”
Then he argued that the lack of a common media source in the era of new media made it difficult to have a reasonable conversation about political issues. “It’s not so much, I think, that people don’t read at all; it’s that everybody is reading [in] their niche, and so often, at least in the media, they’re reading stuff that reinforces their existing point of view,”
Obama also admitted that it was harder to get his own message out in a new media cycle that he says favors sensationalism over substance. “Today, my poor press team, they’re tweeting every two minutes because some new thing has happened, which then puts a premium on the sensational and the most outrageous or a conflict as a way of getting attention and breaking through the noise…”
In my opinion, although it is a bit ironic that Obama successfully used new media to run his election campaign but now complains about the new media, it is that fact new media has created a more fragmented media environment that news flows faster than ever and some people are more likely to just that seek out the more like-minded news sources, contributing to the reinforcement of prior beliefs and opinions and exacerbating polarization. Even new media allows people to have more access to different news sources and viewpoints, it is very usual for us to just follow those politicians, political groups and news page that we like in Facebook or Twitter or stick to one talk radio. On the other hand, we ignore those groups holding an opposite stance. Thus, I also think that it would be a threat to the public sphere since it seems that having public discourse about a political or social issue are becoming more difficult now.
But still, I believe that new media still playing an important role in encouraging people encounter more viewpoints which can avoid manipulated by the agenda setting and framing by the traditional media.
Written by Kit Si