Posted by: paulfbove | July 20, 2008

Online Political Coverage

As the semester of Digital Campaigns draws to a close (thankfully only two more weeks left–I’m simply not cut out for summer classes!), I’ve been thinking about all the new information and media that is available to people. I’m relatively apolitical, but I’ve actually kept up on what is going on during this election. (I’ll try not to break my arm patting my own back.) Because media now includes “new” media, “social” media, “digital” media, and Web 2.0 in general, anybody running a campaign must be sure to include these new avenues in their fight. Because I enjoy new media, the campaigns have been able to talk to me.

Just as campaigns of old had to rely on what was then the “new” media, such as radio and television, to reach their audiences, young people must now be reached via online content. I read this headline in a press release last week, “Mochila and BarelyPolitical Team Up to Drive Awareness of Online Political Coverage Among Generation Y Web Users. Young Voters Driving Engagement and Increased Traffic to Online Political Sites.” The release included stats from a Pew study that reinforce just how important online campaigning has become:

A December 2007 survey from the Pew Internet & American Life Project found that more and more young voters are flocking online to get informed and engage with others about the campaign. Two-thirds of Web users under 30 said they use social networking sites for campaign news, compared to only 20 percent from older age groups. Plus, 40 percent of those surveyed under the age of 30 have watched candidate speeches, interviews, commercials or debates online, substantially more than other demographics.
If you study new media or have been alive and breathing for the past few years, none of this comes as a surprise. Without overstating the obvious, online resources have proven their worth as a way to win public opinion. And in context of the topics we’ve studied this semester, campaigning has gone a long way since its early reliance on media. I’m especially curious about the future. Not much will change prior to the November election, but I’ll bet that technology will create a lot of new applications for the 2012 election. And though I think that traditional media (newspapers, TV) is still important for a campaign, the campaign managers will really be challenged to keep up with emerging technology. After all, how else do they expect to reach the millions of people like me? If it’s not on the Internet, chances are good that I won’t see it.
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