Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Birth of Political Spin

With the establishment of free trade for papers and the expansion of the postal service, the rate of information circulation greatly increased. With this increase in circulation also came an increase from the people for more information. The right for the governing bodies to remain secret could no longer exist. The publicity of the government was required in order to quell any suspicions people had that the government was becoming too powerful. "Secret sessions also meant that senators' brilliant performances in the chamber did not receive coverage in their home-state papers, a disadvantage in building support for a second term" (Starr, p99).

With politicians' messages being transmitted throughout the states also came the need to refine those messages. The early political mass media cultures of Europe has no need to refine their messages because the public at large had no say in the runnings of the government. However, in America, the people were responsible for electing the officials within government. The idea that politicians had to please their constituents in order to get re-elected, I think, gave rise to the spin culture we see today.


At 3:33 PM, Blogger A. Mattson said...

A very good post.

The emerging political culture of the young republic required political publicity. These are the deep roots of the "spin culture."

The new political culture of democracy required a greater openness and access to the means of persuasion. These demands led to the growth of a newspaper industry that fed on the contest for political power between various factions.

The balance between secrecy and public information was shifting. But, the need for secrecy did not disappear. This dynamic is still being contested, negotiated. Government secrecy is still a big problem even today.

Openness has its limits and its costs. Many see open goverment as a threat to national security today.

The drive for increasing classification is intense because of the war on terror. It is ironic that even as the government tries to limit access to public documents it is also trying to break down the privacy rights of individuals with the same argument: national security and the threat of terrorism.


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