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Political Parties

What has changed for Political Parties in the

way their public activities are mediated?

Bridget Murdoch, Natasha Vine, Richard Smith,

Ashleigh Hampton

Before the technological

developments of the past
decade, the way political
parties operated within the
media was very different. New
media like social networking
have made political activity
more visible, immediate and
embedded in people's
everyday lives.
1) How have political parties harnessed the use of
new media, especially social networking?
Convergence of media
Mediums like Facebook, Twitter and Youtube have
been important for politicians for promotion and
visibility. These social networking tools are used in
combination with each other as well as with old
media to increase accessibility to the public, and
giving them more power in the political arena.

“[they use the] same online "[it puts] more power in the
tools rather than expecting hands of the people
individuals to search for a through increased public
way to engage with MPs consultation” - Geraint Scott, Green
Party Social Media Manager
online.” -
One-to-one contact
These tools allow
politicians to form more
personal relationships
with constituents in forms
that they are comfortable
with. They allow
politicians to carry out
traditional forms of "Facebook [is] a bit like
campaigning in new doorknocking. A way to have
ways. a conversation with voters.”
- Megan Woods, Labour Candidate for Wigram
One-to-one contact

“it becomes a two-way conversation

with the public, not a one-way street.”
- Sam Newton, Adviser to United Future leader Peter Dunne
Campaign Funding
Politicians around the
world have harnessed the
permeating nature of the
internet to attract
donations. Parties that
would traditionally not
attract large grants from
corporations or wealthy
families find that small
online donations help
them to close the 'money
Campaign Funding

"[Howard Dean, a US politician] raised more money online from small

contributions than any other previous candidate, setting a model that John
Kerry would subsequently follow to close the “money gap” with the
Republicans.” - Jenkins (2006)
2) How has this use changed their practices and
the way they operate?
Parties as Media Content
Political parties are increasingly becoming
media content producers in and of themselves.
The infiltration of pop culture into politics has
meant politicians are more and more called
upon to be entertaining and relatable, and to
produce content that people feel comfortable
commenting on and engaging with.

"Representatives' roles could be adapted to be

information presenters to the public at large, charged
with disseminating information in an entertaining and
interesting way." - Nixon and Johansson (1999)
Parties as Media Content

“For a growing number ... images may represent as important a

set of rhetorical resources as text.” - Jenkins (2006)
Scrutiny and Quality Control
The uncensored
nature of the Internet
means political
parties must be
careful about
information released
online, as it is easy
for it to be taken out
of context and spread
Scrutiny and Quality Control

“there is more scope for

interactions to be negative.”
Scrutiny and Quality Control
“The dynamics of the
internet are such that it is
difficult to control or ‘police’
… Thus, political parties
are wary of allowing their
websites to slip from their
control.” - Nixon and
Johansson (1999)
Nixon & Johnsson (1999) Transparency through the internet the internet and
political parties, in Digital democracy: discourse and decision making in the
Information Age (eds) Hague & Loader. New York: Routledge.

Jenkins (2006) Photoshop for Democracy: The Relationship between Politics

and Popular Culture, in Convergence culture: where old and new media
collide (ed) Jenkins. New York: New York University Press. (2011)
Parliamentarians-and-online-social-media.htm Accessed 7 May 2011.

Scott, Newton & Woods (2011)

Personal email correspondence.
Note of Gratitude
We wish to take the time to thank the political parties that
responded, especially Megan Woods, Sam Newton and
Geraint Scott for taking the time to respond to our
enquiries and the quality information that they provided;
we wish we had the chance to include more of their