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Audio content rules the world of politics. Congress needs to catch up.

With TikTok, talk radio and podcasts dominating the political world, it seems there's still a lot to learn about how audio content is shaping our society.


So there’s this book.

Authored by B.J. Novak, “The Book with No Pictures” is a children’s story, an homage to the power of sound, and, dare I say, a political text.

At least, I’ve seen it that way.

When I stumbled upon it in 2015, I thought it had a powerful underlying message: Words and sounds have resonance — perhaps, more than even visuals. Novak, for example, has talked about the allure of books that are fun to hear being a "gateway drug" to get kids hooked on literature.

Today, despite ever-growing television sizes and home theaters to boot, I think sound remains a dominant means for people to take in information, entertainment or the modern merger of the two we’ve come to call “infotainment.” 

And with substantial amounts of political conversation happening on sound-dominant platforms, like TikTok, talk radio and podcasts,  I think it behooves anyone working in political communication to understand the consequence of sound and its ability to move us — especially, as something we can ingest and enjoy without being fully engaged. 

We’ve already heard the beginnings of these conversations.

Tech experts have warned about the prolific spread of misinformation and disinformation on TikTok, a platform that’s made sounds and songs trend in the same way images might on visual-heavy platforms like Instagram and Twitter. 

In recent years, we’ve also seen more reporting on the spread of misinformation on talk radio stations, particularly Spanish-language talk radio. On that note, MSNBC contributor Paola Ramos hosted this “Field Report” special last month that addresses the crisis of Spanish-language misinformation pretty thoroughly. 

And internationally, the popularity of right-wing podcasts known for spouting right-wing talking points and other misinformation, like The Joe Rogan Experience, shows how grifters and liars are capitalizing on an increasingly popular means of communication to relay their messages. 

We’ve already seen studies indicating the increased use of soundbites can weaken political discussion by presenters and for listeners

With so much of our democracy centering on the sounds we hear and our response to them, it behooves lawmakers and researchers to investigate the role of audio-based media on our politics.