DOES THE REVOLUTION BEGIN HERE?
HOW THE INTERNET MAY (OR MAY NOT) CHANGE POLITICAL COMMUNICATION
2.9 Further Study
Fundamental questions about the Internet and politics have yet
to be answered. I suggest that first among these questions is whether
the Internet offers something new that is politically meaningful,
or is it simply a new medium offering innovative technological possibilities
that will ultimately be used for similar political purposes as newspapers,
radio and television.
On April 10, 2000 the Committee of Concerned Journalists, a self-described
consortium across media dedicated to clarifying the principles of
the journalism profession, released a study of the online coverage
of the 2000 presidential campaign.1 While it has been
criticized for "lacking any clear sense of what it thinks Web
campaign journalism ought to be,"2 the study is
nonetheless a useful first step in quantifying whether online journalism
adds anything new to political communication. By focusing on quantitative
and qualitative durables such as what election news and information
is offered to citizens online, and attempting to quantify whether
or not online news sources actually use the technological innovations
the Internet affords, this study takes an important step - from
the realm of the speculative towards a more concrete, reality-based
assessment of online news content.
Recognizing an almost complete lack of information on this subject
in the Canadian context, I conducted a study of online news coverage
of first ballot voting in the Canadian Alliance leadership race
for PoliticsWatch. This study is loosely based on the methodology
of the Committee for Concerned Journalists' study.
This study was a humble first attempt at initiating a thread of
Canadian academic inquiry on the impact of the Internet on Canadian
politics. The results are in the pages that follow.