Politics? Isn’t that something that used to be on TV back in the day?

I remember back in the day, at seven o ‘clock sharp, the cookies and tea were ready and the TV was on for ‘Jeugd Journaal’. Later on, when I moved out of my parents house, when I would wake up in the morning, the first thing I would do was to turn on the TV for the news. Nowadays however, despite I’m still very interested in whats happening in the world, I hardly watch TV anymore since I believe that I can find everything I need to know on the internet (and as well: I don’t know how to install my new TV …I’m such a girl).

Cocktails and gossip or coffee and politics?

 When I wake up these days, before I even turn on the lights or make breakfast, I grab my Macbook and turn on Facebook to see what’s ‘the news among my friends.’ On a regular base my friends post links that relate to nation or worldwide news. When what the post interests me, I always have a glance at it on a more informative website like nos.nl or nu.nl. After being updated by Facebook about my friends lives and maybe some interesting important news that actually had some journalistic value, my morning ritual is extended by checking nu.nl. Nu.nl is a news website, which is very accurate due to constant updates by its journalists. I have to admit that the articles are not always the best written stories you have ever seen, and that I sometimes wonder how biased the journalist was when writing the article, but it’s good enough for a quick update of what’s going on in the world, before going back out there again myself.

During the day I alway check my Facebook a few times (I’ll do this anywhere) and I know that if something ‘important’ happened in the world I know my friends will post it on Facebook, so I know about the most important news.

Just before I go to sleep, I always check my Facebook again, followed by nu.nl. I mostly just check the main page with the most relevant and new articles on nu.nl, and sometimes the actuality pages (for example about Libya) and gossip and music pages when I can’t sleep. I hardly check the pages about economics or politics as it does not always interest my that much.

 For me, gathering my news facts over the internet has three main advantages over television. First of all, I like the option that, with my laptop, I can have a quick news update, for example through nu.nl, whenever I want it, wherever I want it. News on the internet is available at any time of the day, and in almost every place imaginable, so you don’t have to sit at home in front of your TV at 8 o’clock to not miss the news.Another advantage is that by gathering your information through the internet, you can use different sources. As a very critical person when it comes to news, I love having the option of being able to use different sources on one news item, to double-check the information for example. The use of different sources also gives you the opportunity to read further into news articles that interest you. At last, I think the most important advantage of being able to gather your news through the internet is ‘selection’. And this is where Prior comes in with the Relative Entertainment Preference (REP) [1]. In short Prior says that when television viewers have a choice between different media content, their preferences should predict what programs they will select. In his research Prior extends this with a focus on how much people with different preferences learn about politics.

 Looking at my own behavior when it comes to select the news and my knowledge about politics, I have to admit that I sometimes skip the political debates when selecting the articles that I’m going to read, simply because I’m not always interested. Sometimes I just want to read news that I find fun or interesting because I can really relate to it at that moment. Therefore I support the pessimistic view that “people take advantage of greater choice and tune out of politics completely. Those with a preference for entertainment, once they gain access to new media, become less knowledgeable about politics and less likely to vote. People’s media content preferences become the key to understanding the political implications of new media” (Prior)

Though this does not completely relate to me as I do not always skip the political articles in the news, I only do so when I feel more like entertainment. However, when it comes closer to the elections or there when I come across a politic article that really interests me, I am more likely to read further into it because of all the sources I can acquire. So on the one hand, referring to myself: Avoiding politics might never again be as difficult as it was in the “goldenage”of television (Prior), but on the other hand I support the optimists in Priors essay, who claim that the greater availability of political information will lead more people to learn more about politics and increase their involvement in the political process. So my own experience supports Priors findings that “motivation is the main obstacle that stands between an abundance of political information and a well and evenly informed public.”

An interesting thing that I noticed while gathering my news during the day and just spending time on Facebook, was to see that my friends who follow a higher level of education (HBO or University) generally post more about politics and repost more (sometimes satiric or funny), yet informative) movies about politics than my friends who attend MBO or no higher level of education at all. I think it could be interesting to do further research between the readings and reposts of users of Social Media dividing them in their different levels of education.

Reaction for a reaction

 For the second part of this assignment it was our task to react on a news article on the internet. I first thought about reacting ‘Wilders vs Rutte’ fight, since a lot of people will be very opinionated about his subject, but as it has been in the news so much I think enough of my fellow students will talk about this hilarious yet interesting news article. I choose instead to react to an article that involved people’s deepest emotions. I decided to go for a very emotionally loaded article as I expect people to be more motivated to react, and will give more intense reactions, when they are passionate and emotional about a subject.

 The article I reacted on, was about a life loving young Dutch woman who got hit by four guys in their car, and they continued driving after they hit her, not even calling an ambulance. She died. The driver only got 18 months detention. http://www.nujij.nl/algemeen/18-maanden-cel-voor-doodrijden-cabareti-egrave-re.13814963.lynkx#axzz1Ynke5T57

 This article is particularly interesting since it could get a political loading in several ways: people could start nagging about or supporting our law system since the guy only got 18 months in jail while he basically killed a loved young woman. Also, since the guys were Moroccan and I know many of my friends are annoyed by often Moroccan/foreign taxi drivers or guys in their Mercedes and BMW’s. I wondered if the reactions to this article would get a political load in that way too.

As I expected, this article has, with 353 reactions, a relatively high ratio of people responding to it. The reactions so far can be divided in three groups: rational responses and emotional responses and mixed (ratio vs emotion) responses. The rational posts mostly support their opinions by facts about the Dutch law system. Though not always agreeing with the punishment of just 18 months jail, the only positive responses towards the article were of those people who were led by rationality, for example: “such is the dutch Law system, and it does work for 99% of the cases, we shouldn’t chance it.” Within the emotional responses, which were about 80 percent of all the replies, I could only find people highly disagreeing with the news article. Unlike I expected, I didn’t see any reactions about the background of the guys in the car.

 Because I highly disagree with the news that someone who takes away the life of a young woman (he even didn’t stop when he hit her) only gets 18 months jail, I decided to also put an emotionally loaded reaction on the forum. In order to make it more interesting for people to reply at, I made my post seem a bit inconsiderate. I did this by saying that I wish the future kids of the guy that hit her would get killed in a car accident too. I expected some heavy reactions to my post, but unfortunately I didn’t get any response. I think this might be because there were already so many responses against the punishment that the guy got, that people couldn’t be bothered to reply to it anymore. Maybe if I would have made my statement a bit more extreme more people would have replied. When looking at other posts many people replied too, it are indeed the most extreme posts (whether positive or negative) that got the most replies.

There is however a greater response on people who posted a positive comment towards the article (mostly pretty rational and factual) by people attacking them with negative (emotional) responses. In this assignment find that people are more eager to react on someone’s post or news article if they do not agree with it.

[i] Prior, M. (2005). How Increasing Media Choice Widens Gaps in Political Knowledge and Turnout. American Journal of Political Science, 49, 577-592

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