This article examines the ways that new communications technologies change the organization of politics as well as the content of news. Changes in the media lead to changes in the mediators, the persons who choose and interpret the news for the public. When new mediators convey different news stories or offer different interpretations from the previous regime, they redistribute control of politics and culture.
As media get cheaper, faster and harder to control, state regulation of content becomes less effective. This provides new opportunities for citizens to monitor their leaders and alters the ways that leaders – whether they are democratic or authoritarian – demonstrate accountability.
Political leaders are always trying to control the agenda by limiting information available to the public and convincing the public that they know more and know best. New forms of media, such as the commercial television, cable and satellite television, and the internet change political competition by providing new opportunities for insurgent politicians to challenge their elders. I consider these changes within the context of past innovations, including the rise of the printing press, the telegraph, the newspaper, and radio.