Mass communication lies at the heart of political discourse. It informs governments and citizens, it defi nes the limits of expression, and it provides us with ‘mental maps’ of the political world outside our direct experience. The technology of mass political communication has changed dramatically over the past century, taking us from a time when newspapers dominated to the era of broadcasting (first radio and then television), and bringing us to the current age of the internet, with instant information in unparalleled quantities from numerous sources. As that technology has changed, so have the dynamics of political communication: consumers now play a critical role in defi ning what constitutes ‘the news’, changing the relationship between the governed and the government, and the nature of political communication.
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