Campaigning and Digital Media in Alberta: Emerging Practices and Democratic Outcomes?

Peter John Chen, Peter Jay Smith,

Abstract


This article examines the use and impact of an array of established and emerging digital media on the 2008 Alberta provincial election. Based on data collected from a range of methods, we explore the application of digital media by candidates and political parties. In describing the extent to which various forms of digital media were employed as campaign tools, the article examines the role of digital media in overcoming the media access gap between the dominant political party and other oppositional and minor parties (democratization). As a source of comparison, data from the 2008 national election is employed. The article argues that the evidence supporting democratization is weak. Although there are indications that digital media is one area of campaigning that suffers from the lowest performance gap between different political parties and actors, we identify that structural, human and financial factors advantage the dominant parties' access to both conventional and digital media. This appears significant given the electoral success of the incumbent, and the continued decline in voter participation. The inability of digital media to reinvigorate Alberta democracy lies in other factors of which, we argue, politics is but one, historical, social and economic factors being significant as well.

Keywords


canada; canadian politics; electoral politics; parties; party competition; democracy; new media; digital media; online media; internet; website; social networking; youtube; blog; blogging; blogger; alternative media; voting; provincial politics; incumbenc

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@Canadian Political Science Review (CPSR). ISSN 1911-4125