We already know that the media is a vital key in order to live our lives. Starting from daily routine such as communication, information researching, and transportation(Grab or Food Panda), it is getting close to every part of our lives reaching the bigger level like the entertainment industry, business, or even politics—the country level. Even though politics seems to be distant, it is not. It is unimaginably close to us but used to be ignored in the past due to the difficulty to access. However, these days, everyone notices its proximity by the approach of the media.
The role of media in politics
Politics is about using media. It does not mean that the media is politics or politics is media, but without media, politics cannot be complete. The media plays an important role in politics. It is the gateway to present and spread political knowledge or messages. It is also like the connector between a government and citizens. Besides, mass media is considered a tool that influences citizens’ political ideology. As seen from an election campaign, the more space in mass media the political party gets, the more attention they will earn which can be an advantage for the election. When coup d’état happens, the media, which is like a blank page that the owner can write anything they want, would be controlled by the coup council firstly. Having more controlled media, the coup council will have more influence on the citizens.
Like the case of the Philippines news organization named Rappler, which is one of few media organizations that are free to criticize of the President Rodrigo Duterte and known for its intense investigation, the site’s license was revoked and the reporters were banned and prohibited to cover their official activities.
In addition, Maria Ressa, the CEO of the site, was arrested on charges of cyber-libel law. Notwithstanding, Press Freedom Advocates and Western press see this case as an attempt of the government to silence the news organization. Whether the accuses to both the press and the president are true or not, it ensures that the media has an impact on the stabilization of the government even just only one organization.
Development in the media
The rise of new media provides freedom of communication. Everyone can now be able to send information making the messages spread widely and endlessly on multiple platforms. The evolution of media changes the way politics proceeds—the politics in the past before new media was different from now.
To illustrate, the coup d’état in Thailand under P. Pibulsongkram government in 1951, even though there were a number of people who did not agree with the coup council, it had no grand protest during that time because having only mass media did not allow the information to reach people or allow the people who have the same idea to connect them together.
In the other hand, the coup during the new media era in 2014 has been being criticized on many platforms of social media for 5 years. Every mistake or suspicious action will be publicly seen. The government’s action will be on sight of both people and press, also with the foreign press. For instance, both Thai citizens and the western countries requested Thailand to launch an election. Until after the election had passed, the US and EU implored Thailand to fairly and publicly check the rules and result of the election as soon as possible.
Political ideology and activity
It cannot be denied that the changes in surroundings have an impact on the way we live our lives. Therefore, people in each generation will have a difference in thought and behavior. Since the media can shape how we think and how we behave, it also affects the political ideology and activity as well.
The media provides convenience for people to join political activities. We will see that, nowadays, it has a lot more ideological aggregation by using the benefits of online media platforms. Like the Umbrella Revolution, Hong Kong political movement in 2014, the protestors used an umbrella as a tool for passive resistance and shared the umbrella picture with the hashtag #UmbrellaRevolution making the idea forwards to be global.
Including political activity advertising, it can be more effective with less cost such as the request in revoking the Election Commission of Thailand (ECT). Although the law rules that the people who want to sign for the revoking have to do it manually, the media is still as the main channel for gathering people to push the activity forward.
The media also influences the perception of people—ideology. Being able to access multiple information makes people have various perception causing the individuals to have their own thoughts. In the past, the people were obviously separated into a few ways of political ideas. These days, everyone has a specific point of view and be able to make (their) own decision to consume and believe each source. It makes the line that separates people in terms of politics fade out along with decreasing political inducement which is negatively related to the development of continuously growing media.
In Dao Siam newspaper case, This news organization is recorded in Thai history as the one that had a responsibility in 6th October event from causing conflicts among citizens themselves by reporting news that incited people until it ended up with people killing one another.
However, doing so in the present day seems not to be as effective since the media lets people have more choices to consume news, search for the sources, and analyze the information they have got. Nation TV, for example, is known for several times reporting biased news. The organization is found continuously reporting news that attacks the Future Forward Party in this election.
The most famous case is the report about the relationship between Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, (the leader of Future Forward Party), and Thaksin Shinawatra by releasing the voice record of them talking together. Whether the organization attempts to incite people or not, reporting the news without examining the source and having accuracy resulted in a misunderstanding of numerous people. Nevertheless, the news turned out to be fake in a short period after, and people on social media have created a hashtag to spread the fact and warn the organization to aware of the action. From all of it, the case shows that the current media process requires more than just only one news organization to direct people’s ideas.
Engagement by the media
In the past, political communication was mostly about how politicians or governors speak to us. Now, it is also about how we speak back to them. The two-way communication provided by new media allows us to have interaction directly with the politicians. We are not only able to receive what they inform but also give feedback which has an effect on the action the politicians will take—our voices are louder than they ever were. Hence, people can be a part to drive the political system.
On election campaign seasons, the campaign signs always resulted in pathways blocking that can end in harm for pathway users. In this round of the election, after receiving complaints from social media users, political parties that apply social media as one of the communicating methods have come out and fixed the problem along with the apology.
The case shows that having interaction between politicians and citizens makes people be influential in driving politics. It also benefits the politicians in gaining more attention by targeting the right group of people on the right platforms like the Pheu Thai party that started to promote their campaign via Twitter.
Importance of media in democracy
From the above, an endless communication of new media is so powerful that any country leader who is authorized enough will try to take control of new media. The fact that new media provide freedom of speech in terms of uploading any kind of message online makes most powerful leaders consider new media can sometimes be a threat for the national security, especially in dictatorship country like China and North Korea that limit their citizens’ rights of using new media. Comparing to old media or mass media, blocking information or comment on new media platforms is way more difficult. Particularly, the complete blocking seems to be impossible. According to that, the new media is like the core of democratic system as it is the media that supports a difference in opinion and provides space for discussion which is the chance to get more views from others. Therefore, it enhances democracy to reach full effectiveness.
The Hunger Games
Considering The Hunger Games Trilogy, it is a successful movie in terms of revenue, public interest, and criticism. Like the trojan horse, the movie carries massive political messages in a form of entertainment without awareness of the audiences until it impacted on real-life politics.
Since a movie can be accessed easily, it is a good way to effectively convey any message. Hence, we can see the political protests in many countries arose by absorbing the ideology from this movie—no surprising why the movie was banned in many countries. Furthermore, the three-finger salute and quote from the movie are used as an unofficial symbol to represent injustice and the desire for democracy in Thailand protest a couple of times
Even the movie itself, media is shown as the main medium to drive the movement of the revolution. In consequence, The Hunger Games is one of the obvious evidence about the relationship between the media and politics.
Lastly, we all know that the media has both a direct and indirect impact on politics whether the governance of the country is democracy or dictatorship. However, media does not just only affect on politics, it can invent any wishful demand that the users desire. It is like a modern form of Excalibur. Carried by the good, it is an instrument for saving humanity. With the bad, its darkest power shall be hauled. The difference is everyone can now pull this sword and employ its full potential.