2.1 Introduction
2.2 Putting ‘information' in rational perspective
2.3 Why the Internet matters to political journalism
2.4 Individuals online: usage and impacts
2.5 Groups online: usage and impacts
2.6 Politicians online: usage and impacts
2.7 Media online: usage and impacts
2.8 ‘Ya say ya wanna a revolution?'
2.9 Further study

Submitted by:
A.M. Burton

Submitted to:
School of Journalism and Communication, Carleton University (Ottawa, Canada),

in part completion of the requirements for the

Master of Journalism

September 2000

:: Research Base



2.1 Introduction

From individual voters to the traditional media, special interest groups, politicians and political parties, the Internet is making a perceptible wave in politics in North America and Europe. This new medium of interconnected networks of computers has begun to alter political communication in many innovative, interesting and perhaps significant ways.

The ubiquitous buzz about the Internet is undeniable, but what, if anything, does it mean to political communication and by extension to democracy?

The 1996 American presidential election marked the inauguration of the Internet as a full-fledged medium of political communication, with many candidates hosting personal Web pages and the traditional news media forging a Web presence of their own. Since then, considerable scholarly attention, largely in the United States, has been devoted to studying the impact of the Internet on political communication. This research has consisted of some quantitative and qualitative measures of available online news resources, but has in large part remained in the realm of the speculative.

While Canadian scholars largely ignored Internet use during the 1997 Canadian federal election campaign, presumably because there was little reason to pay any attention, this will surely not be the case the next time round. The dominant federal political parties, Canada's major media organizations, special interest groups and ordinary Canadians are devoting considerable resources (time, labour, financial and otherwise) to using the Internet and developing an online presence. The number of Canadians online continues to increase. According to Canadian political journalist Tom Arnold, commenting on the emergence of spoof Web sites during the recent race for the leadership of Canada's new Alliance Party, "for the first time, in Canadian history, the Internet is playing a major role in a political contest."1 All indications are that the next Canadian federal election, expected within 12 months, is likely to be our nation's inaugural Internet election.

This literature review considers some of the most recent and compelling research on the role of the Internet in politics. The possibilities and challenges this new medium holds for strengthening democracy are placed in the context of a public choice model.

Foot Notes

1.     Arnold, National Post, May 22, 2000.

 next section

Research Base
Go direct:

Table of Contents

Section 1

Section 2

Section 3
Politics Watch Study

Section 4

Section 5


PoliticsWatch Home  |  News Services  Voter Resources  |  Research Base

© PoliticsWatch® 2004. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PoliticsWatch content, 
including by framing, copying, linking or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of 
Public Interests Research and Communications Inc. (PIRCINC). PoliticsWatch is registered trademark of PIRCINC.
PoliticsWatch® | Canada's Political Portal™
85 Albert Street, Suite 1502, Ottawa ON K1P 6A4 |  phone: 613.232.0516
news@politicswatch.com  |  Terms of Service, Copyright, Trademarks, and Disclaimers Statement