It was only when Matthew MacGregor of Blue State Digital, famous for
advising Obama’s campaign, talked about the importance of email that I
realised this debate was about ‘new media’ rather than ‘social media’. But
isn’t new media what happened quite a long time ago?
Social media is much more important. Social media allows people to join
campaigns, to become activists, to donate money, more easily than ever
before. MacGregor spoke of 90% of a party’s new media effort being spent
on email – but email is just another form of broadcasting, unless you’re
going to have somebody actually responding to the replies.
Social media is all about sharing, being rewarded for being open – and the
panel ignored this, providing a surprisingly negative view, focusing on
the potential for citizen journalists to pick up and amplify gaffes and
mistakes. That will happen, but Twitter allows the gaffeur (or gaffeuse?)
to respond immediately, and social media moves at such a pace that the
story will have died out before it hits the more mainstream press. DJ
Collins of Google was the only one who seemed to get this.
If you’re a good, honest, genuine and caring politician – that will out
through social media. If you’re an arse, the truth will out too.
What they said
Matthew MacGregor (BSD)
‘New media allows politicians to bypass the media and talk straight to the
people, who won’t listen, because the politicians don’t have anything
interesting to say.’
Ivor Gaber (City University)
‘Twitter is anarchy.’ ‘Post-expensesgate, there will be a higher turnout.’
Rupa Huq (Labour blogger)
‘[The news cycle is faster], but election machinery isn’t’
Nick Robinson (BBC)
‘It’s still all about TV.’ ‘Sarah Brown [in her Twitter guise] is one of
the most influential people in politics’.