Elections Show Potential of Social Media

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Midterm elections on Nov. 02 may have set a benchmark for the future synthesis of politics and innovation within news organizations.

Being an important day in U.S. politics, major news organizations tried to report their election-coverage by means of up-to-the-minute technology. The Washington Post and the New York Times were among the noticeable contributors to the new wave of social media in political news.

On election day, the Washington Post became the first news organization to buy a Twitter-promoted trend, #Election, in order to promote its election coverage and incite people to share their thoughts with all Twitter users following the trend.

According to Katharine Zales, head of digital news products at the Washington Post,"the reason we did it was not so much for the traffic. It was more to be front and center in the conversation." By doing so, the Washington Post tried to deliever real-time, multimedia, and personally engaging political discussion.

By purchasing a promoted trend on Twitter, the Post took a serious approach of social media as a medium by which news are transmitted nowadays.

In a similar way, the New York Times used social media in the form of a Twitter traffic map that showed candidates' tweets, retweets from the public and tweets directed at the candidates.

The Times also hosted its first live-streaming web coverage from its newsroom trying to make their election-coverage feel much closer to their audiences, just like TV.

It seems like news organizations today have acknowledged that new digital journalism requires a new a new approach to their audiences; hence, most of them see public engagement as an essential structure of their business.

By using flashy web aplications, live-streaming video and Twitter to cover the elections, news agencies have demonstrated the importance of innovation in making political news more engaging, immediate and widely available throught different platforms.


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