The Digital Journalism Blog

Bayonets, horses and binders full of women


Thomas Jefferson, Franklin Roosevelt, and John Kennedy ran presidential campaigns separated by time, differences in social issues and profound developments in communication technology.

But they all had at least two things in common:

1) They used the newest media platforms better than their opponents. Jefferson utilized newspapers, Roosevelt used the radio and Kennedy understood the power of TV as well as any politicians of his era.

2) They won.

In the 2008 presidential race, Barrack Obama used the newest platform available to his advantage; the internet. More importantly social media, and he used it better than his opponent.

But, much in the same way we don’t interact with TV in the same way as viewers did in the 1960’s, our social media and internet usage have evolved. Every app uploaded and download, every user-generated content tool developed and every innovation in computers, tablets and smartphones changes the way we interact on the web.

Monday’s final presidential debate drew the least amount of Twitter activity of the three nights. Granted, the first two weren’t going against Monday Night Football, Game 7 of the NLCS or the daunting task of attracting viewers to a foreign policy debate. But tweeps were tweeting enough to highlight certain trends. The most tweeted moment of the debate was after Romney challenged Obama on the decreasing size of the U.S. Military; to which Obama responded:

“We also have fewer horses and bayonets.” (Fact check alert!)

A stagnant viewership erupted and the Twitter race was on. Yahoo! News highlighted a few interesting movements by the candidates. Shortly after the debate:

Changing the way we obtain and process information, changes the way politicians connect to the public (except for the 47 percent of you Romney doesn’t care much for. You can do whatever you want on Twitter.)

But is it all this bombardment of information good? Can receiving our news in tiny snippets devoid of context and packed with impulsivity be good for discourse? Is this one of the most over-asked line of questions facing our media today?

Well (clearing my throat) based on empirical evidence: Probably not. I highly doubt it. Yes, not to mention the third leg of a sophomoric string of paragraphs comprising a mediocre medley of journalistic strategy.

Joe Lockhart can anwer these questions better than most. Lockhart was the White House Press Secretary for Bill Clinton, and recently shared his insights on the media landscape at Brooklyn Law School.

I leave you with a few of his most relevant thoughts from a recent blog post by Craig Kanalley, senior editor, Big News & Live Events, The Huffington Post.

  • On how people get their news now: We’re now entering an era where people are informing each other, through the likes of Facebook and Twitter. It’s tougher to get facts and think for yourself.
  • Online ignorance: “There is a lot of sharing but there’s just as much sharing of ignorance as knowledge”
  • Social media’s impact on politics: It has sped up the news cycle, putting pressure on campaigns to respond more quickly and leaving less time to develop a narrative

Note: this post was written as if it could appear on 10,000 words


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