The evolution of political messaging into the digital age
Jun 27, 2024

The evolution of political messaging into the digital age

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Joshua Scacco, professor of political communication and director of the Center for Sustainable Democracy at the University of South Florida, says presidents have always had to adapt to new platforms like radio, cable TV and modern-day social media.

It feels like eons ago, but during a town hall on violence in America in 1994, then-President Bill Clinton took to MTV to reach the nation’s youth. Clinton’s openness to MTV and what The New York Times called “other unconventional media” had helped pave his path to the White House two years earlier.

Fast-forward to today, and even reluctant politicians use TikTok to reach younger voters — President Joe Biden is no exception. His first post came just ahead of this year’s Super Bowl.

We invited Marketplace’s senior Washington correspondent, Kimberly Adams, and Joshua Scacco, professor of political communication and director of the Center for Sustainable Democracy at the University of South Florida, to discuss the evolution of political messaging with Marketplace’s Lily Jamali. Scacco said Clinton’s MTV moment informed how future presidents, including his successor, George W. Bush, have engaged with Americans.

This conversation is part of “Marketplace Tech’s” limited series “Decoding Democracy.” Watch the full episode here or on our YouTube channel.

More on everything we talked about

Bill Clinton asked ‘Boxers or Briefs?’ on MTV’s ‘Enough Is Enough’ Forum from April 1994,” from YouTube

obama releases first political facebook application,” from jill/txt

From wireless to YouTube,” from The Guardian

Using TikTok as a Search Engine,” from Adobe

Beware the ‘New Google’: TikTok’s Search Engine Pumps Toxic Misinformation To Its Young Users,” from NewsGuard

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The team

Daisy Palacios Senior Producer
Daniel Shin Producer
Jesús Alvarado Associate Producer
Rosie Hughes Assistant Producer