Defining the new media and their role in American politics is an important, albeit somewhat challenging, task. In this book, we argue that the new media are quantitatively and qualitatively different from the mainstream press. They do not simply represent a variation of the established news media.
The new media have significant potential to educate, facilitate public discourse, and enhance citizen participation. They provide mass audiences with a seemingly boundless array of sources that transcend the time and space constraints of traditional media. In addition, new media technologies easily bypass national and international boundaries, bringing American citizens into contact with diverse cultures and distant happenings to an extent previously unimaginable. As such, new media have the potential to enhance the public’s understanding and tolerance of different societies….