Thursday, August 09, 2007

Australian Digital Media and Politics

The digital battle between political parties in the run up to the Australian federal election continues. Today, following an interest rate rise, the opposition Labor Party employed a technique from machinima cinematography. Because they are not allowed to use recordings from parliamentary proceedings they got an actor to impersonate the voice of the Prime Minister John Howard, saying "Working families in Australia have never been better off." The video advertisement can be seen here.
The Prime Minister did take part in a webcast last night but he shared the screen with the leader of the opposition Kevin Rudd, as they both appeared before an estimated 100 000 Christians gathered in churches around the country.
The digital divide between the two parties was most obviously manifest in the discovery by Federal Member for Corangamite Stewart McArthur that someone had posted a fake MySpace site slandering him. The site has been online for THREE MONTHS!! Not a fan of social software applications, Mr McArthur (pictured) said "Good people, whether they be public figures or private citizens, should not be at risk of having their reputation harmed on the Internet." It seems it is the uncontrolled ability for ordinary citizens to create media content that troubles the Australian government with one newspaper report stating:

The Web 2.0 phenomenon which includes sites like MySpace, Facebook and YouTube has come under increasing fire from government and industry due to its largely user authored content which is notoriously difficult to regulate

So far in the digital campaign it seems to be the opposition Australian Labor Party that is gaining ground. While the government is using digital media such as Youtube, it has not successfully embraced the more powerful opinion forming aspects of digital media such as forums, live chat and viral media. Maybe its on its way.

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