[FOUNTAIN]New politics, wired politics

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[FOUNTAIN]New politics, wired politics

The election campaign season has come. Whenever I come to the office and log on to my computer, I see my mail box full of e-mail from candidates. In some of those messages, senders are clearly identified as candidates or their supporters, but other mail comes from senders who hide or disguise their names because they are delivering information unfavorable to some candidates.

The flood of e-mail and information related to political propaganda could symbolize the new media environment of Korea, which has the world's largest density of high-speed Internet service. The e-mail also shows how well Korean politicians have adapted to the new technology age. If media develop and evolve, whether in a good direction or a bad one, propaganda methods and campaign strategies also evolve. The new media are forming a new social environment and a new form of human relations.

The United States has the best-developed media techniques for election campaigns. The outcome of many recent election campaigns in the United States depended on how fast campaign strategists adapted themselves to the change of environment after these new media were developed.

Franklin D. Roosevelt was the first in U.S. history to be called "a media president." He spoke to the public in regular conversations by radio, which was developed in the late 1920s. His weekly "fireside chats" became a tradition, and regular broadcasts by the U.S. president have become a tradition since then.

In 1948, television broadcasts were first used in a political campaign. U.S. television channels later began broadcasting the conventions of the two major U.S. political parties. Political TV commercials were used in presidential election campaigns for the first time in 1952. Dwight D. Eisenhower made active use of TV advertisements and won the presidency that year.

Televised debates between presidential candidates began in 1960. Richard M. Nixon lost the election that year partly because his "five-o'clock shadow" made him appear old and menacing compared to John F. Kennedy.

George W. Bush and Al Gore used the Internet, radio and television. Some U.S. primary elections last year used Internet voting experimentally.

The good and bad points of "e-politics" have become issues. Television changed back-room politics into an open contest, and digital communications are changing it more. It will be interesting to see how Korea's cyber generation changes our political environment.

The writer is a JoongAng Ilbo editorial writer.

by Kim Seok-hwan

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