The Paradox of Visibility: Can Politicians Escape the Big Media Trap?

Image credit, RAEng_Publications

The intricate interplay between elected officials and communication channels significantly shapes public opinion. However, a concerning trend reveals politicians exclusively gravitating towards the familiar embrace of major platforms. This narrow focus, driven by the misconception that only significant big news outlets guarantee broad reach, results in high costs and overlook the potential of smaller, diverse voices. Particularly in the age of social media, this approach feels outdated and potentially detrimental.

The allure of major news networks lies in their perceived ability to cast a wide net. However, this perception is increasingly inaccurate. Smaller outlets tailored to specific communities can effectively reach engaged and loyal audiences. Social media and targeted advertising further level the playing field, empowering the representation of the people to connect directly with constituents, bypassing the need for traditional gatekeepers.

So, why is there a persistent reliance on big business? The answer lies in the power of perception. Too often, they believe their credibility and influence directly correlate with mainstream visibility. This backward thinking is exemplified by a revealing comment from a member with close ties to the Canadian government, noting that some members of parliament prioritize defending themselves on the country’s largest funded media, even in the face of negative stories. They would rather face scrutiny on a grand scale than engage in favorable interviews with smaller or minority publications highlighting their accomplishments.

The irony in that statement lies in the fact that there are individuals explicitly employed within the government or party whose job is to track every significant ethnic event upcoming in the province or city. This includes national holidays, significant memorials, and other related events. Both the government in power and the opposition make it a point to ensure that all parliament members attend at least one of these events for visibility, where they can be photographed, videoed, or shared on social media. Furthermore, a concerted effort is made to take out some form of advertisement in these smaller ethnic publications, ostensibly to convey support. However, the question remains: are these gestures truly reflective of genuine support?

Ignoring smaller, diverse, often grassroots publications creates a blind spot, neglecting opportunities for deeper, more meaningful connections with voters. These entities often cater to niche communities with highly engaged readerships, offering a more targeted and potentially impactful platform than the broad brushstrokes of significant players.

Social media further democratizes information dissemination. Politicians can reach specific demographics at a fraction of the cost associated with traditional advertising. This reality challenges the outdated yet persistent reliance on major media outlets. Furthermore, the neglect of smaller and ethnic outlets perpetuates a concerning trend of neglecting diverse voices. A more inclusive approach, engaging with various communication channels, would broaden the reach and messages and foster a sense of inclusivity and representation.

The current trend of those in or clinging to power to disseminate news dependence reflects a misplaced trust in their efficacy. The evolving communication landscape and rise of social media challenge the belief that major platforms are the sole path to mass connection. The paradox emerges: those seeking broad visibility may be undermining their impact by neglecting smaller voices and the dynamic opportunities presented by alternative channels. A paradigm shift in communication is needed, recognizing the value of diversity and embracing the full spectrum of channels available to engage with the public effectively.