Electronic Whistle-Stops: The Impact of the Internet on American Politics

Article excerpt

Electronic Whistle-Stops: The Impact of the Internet on American Politics. Gary W. Selnow. Westport, CT & London: Praeger Publishers, 1998. 221 pp. $59.95 hbk. $19.95 pbk.

The controversial Starr Report that described what the Independent Counsel believed were grounds for impeaching President Clinton was released on the World Wide Web 11 September 1998. While the Independent Counsel's report on Bill Clinton's relationship with Monica Lewinsky was made public too late to be part of the new political world that is the substance of Electronic Whistle-Stops, it is interesting to consider where it would fit into this new book about politics and new communication technology.

Whether events following release of the report would have changed anything is mere speculation; it is the sort of event that is the heart of the new book by Gary W. Selnow, a communication professor at San Francisco State University. He has authored several books about television and politics.

"The use of the Internet in the 1996 campaigns has a significance that transcends the political figures who set up Web sites to impress constituents," Selnow wrote in the introduction (p. xxii). The impact of the Internet on the political process is much more than simple candidate Web sites, he maintains. "The Internet is shaping up to be a serious international medium that will radically alter politics in the United States and abroad, and what's more, it will impact society on a larger level. It stands to change political and ideological alignments, the substance of news available to the population, and the relationships between political leaders and the people" (p. xxii).

Selnow's book is divided into seven chapters contained in three parts. …

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