Television is one of the main tools of communication in mass media. Technological revolution has seen increased global television coverage (Marling, 2006). Companies such as Cable News Network (CNN) have extended their global coverage, resulting in increased global audience. The 2008 US presidential elections generated a lot of global interest. Democrats had two candidates contesting for the party’s presidential ticket (Museuam TV, 2010).
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They included the current President, Barrack Obama and Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. The presidential election was deemed historic for two reasons. First, Obama won, he would be the first African-American president. On the other hand, Hillary Clinton won she would be the first woman president. Subsequently, Barrack Obama won and thus became the first ever African-American President of the United States.
Television coverage of the 2008 US Presidential elections
After the 2008 Democratic Party primaries, Barrack Obama won the party’s presidential nomination race. He was pitted against John McCain, the Republican Party candidate. The election race between the two candidates generated increased media coverage. Cable News Network (CNN) enjoys heavy local and international presence. The company, which is based in Atlanta, Georgia, comprises of CNN/US and CNN International.
CNN covered the 2008 presidential elections comprehensively where the company hosted several debates during both parties’ primaries. Also, the company introduced a new dimension to the presidential debate. Through CNN-You tube, ordinary citizens were in a position to submit questions prior to debates between the two presidential candidates (Associated Press, 2009).
This increased CNN’s viewership by 48%. Increased coverage of the presidential polls right from the primaries has several advantages. One advantage is that the electorate is in a position to scrutinize the candidates’ responses to specific issues affecting them. Therefore, they can make an informed decision based on the suitability of the candidates’ responses in relation to their needs.
This model has been replicated in other countries although not in the same form. It is highly regarded due to increased transparency in the process of nomination.
Increased scrutiny from television coverage has also acted as important tool in voter education. In 2008, 18 to 24 year olds voter turnout increased by 2% where it was reported at 49% compared to 47% reported in 2004 (Associated Press, 2009).
Through televised debates for example, issues affecting the nation including issues affecting young people were discussed. Some of the issues addressed include an increasing level of unemployment in the country. The presidential candidates gave their varied opinions and solution to such issues. As a result, young voters were able to identify the candidate who best promises to provide viable solutions to their problems.
International coverage of the 2008 American presidential triggered several issues. One of the issues that emerged from the election is ability of presidential candidates from minority groups to assume key government positions. In 1966, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave the famous ‘I have a dream ‘speech.
He envisioned a society where judgment would be based on an individual’s character, as opposed to his/her biological and cultural background. The 2008 elections was therefore a litmus test for the United States as a society and levels of tolerance within the society. The election of Barrack Obama thus was a reflection of increased levels of cultural tolerance. Also, it epitomized political maturity.
The United States is therefore seen as a model democracy across the globe (Marling, 2006). With the aid of increased international television coverage, people across the globe were able witness this landmark development in the United States politics. Therefore, this historic election was a challenge to other countries to emulate the United States in exhibiting such levels of cultural tolerance. This provides a level playing ground for all candidates thus enhancing the democratic values.
Effects of 2008 US Presidential Elections on Italy
Obama’s victory in 2008 was seen as a ‘small revolution’ across the globe (Associated Press, 2009). It gave individuals from minority groups’ hope of ascending into high political office. One of the main effects of the outcome of the election was minority group leaders are willing to take more political risks including running for high offices. These leaders are ready to work closely with their kin with the objective of advancing their interests and political ambitions.
The outcome of the 2008 US presidential elections was also a challenged to the Italian society to integrate immigrants into their political institutions. Therefore, through their leaders, these groups will be in a position to contribute comprehensively towards the achievement of national policies. Also, minority groups will be more enthusiastic towards participating in the electoral process. In 2008 US Presidential elections, black and Hispanic vote was very crucial in swing states such as Nevada and Colorado.
In April 2008, Silvio Berlusconi assumed the premiership in Italy. He was very enthusiastic about Obama’s victory in the elections. US-Italian relations thus have continued to flourish with several notable developments. Italy has always been a close ally of the United States. Italy, for example, hosts United States army, air force and navy across in different bases across the country. Italy, also, was part of multinational force that was deployed in Iraq from 2006.
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The United States has been very instrumental in the Euro zone crisis which affected the Italian economy adversely. President Obama has played a crucial role in soliciting help for the ailing Italian economy. His confidence in the current administration’s ability to get the country’s economy is a significant boost to the administration’s efforts. The above is based on cordial relations existent between the two countries.
Impact of technological advancements in coverage of the 2008 United States
Presidential Election in Italy
Television industry in Italy has been dominated by two major players. Mediaset, owned by Silvio Berlusconi, is one of the major players in the industry. The company runs several television stations including Italia 1, Canale 5 and Rete 4 (Associated Press, 2009). Access to the channels is free and as such, the Italian public is in a position to access the channels. The second major player in the television industry is RAI (Radiotelevisione italiana). This is the state-owned broadcaster which runs television channels such as Rai 1, Rai 2 and Rai 3.
The above companies have enjoyed a duopoly thus controlling 90% of the market. However, developments in the Italian television industry have seen entry of new players keen on breaking the duopoly. One of new players in the industry is Cable News Network. CNN launched CNNItalia which broadcasts in Italian and was integral in the coverage of the US Presidential elections in 2008.
Major television networks in Italy have been accused of laxity in the coverage of various political events (Mediabistro, 2009). Due to increased stranglehold by the political class, these television stations have not been comprehensive in delivering accurate political analysis to their audiences.
The 2008 US Presidential elections received limited coverage from the major networks including Rai and Mediaset television channels. However, the pay television channels including international channels such as Sky Italia and CNNItalia were able to deliver to the audiences. For example, CNN was able to employ new technology in order to enhance coverage of the elections.
One of the key technologies introduced during the elections is the use of holographic technology. Holographic technology was used to relay results using 3D technology and this made it easier for the viewer to identify the winner based on the illustrations (Mediabistro, 2009).
This was very crucial to the international audience as the images enhanced their understanding of the results. Another aspect introduced by CNN was the ‘magic wall’. This was a topographic representation of the different regions across the United States. The technology was also quite effective in enabling the Italian public to follow election results and also identify the location of the different States from where the results were reported.
The United States is considered a model democracy across the globe. It is based on strong electoral institutions and systems. This promotes transparency in the voting process. The 2008 US presidential polls were a landmark in the country’s history. The election saw Barrack Obama being elected as the 44th President of the United States. The event marked renewed energy for minority groups towards assuming key positions in the government.
The ‘Obama effect’ was also experienced in Europe where minority groups experienced renewed vigor towards achieving the same feat in their countries. Authoritative coverage by international networks including CNN enabled viewers including those in Italy to monitor and understand the results. Therefore, advances in technology were very critical in ensuring that viewers understood the content of the election results.
Associated Press (2009). Black women, Hispanics fueled 2008 vote. Web.
Marling, W. (2006). How “American” Is globalization?. Baltimore, Maryland: JHU Press.
Mediabistro (2009). CNN and Technology: 9 Landmark moments. Web.
Museuam TV. (n.d.). Political Processes and Television