Look Who’s Talking

23 09 2009

For centuries, the link between the media and politics has been evident and influential on public opinion and political decisions. The opening chapter of Jim Willis’ book, The Media Effect, highlights page after page of anecdotes documenting examples of times in our recent history that political action; be it declaration of war, presidential elections, or decisions to enter and aid distressed nations, were determined by the media’s portrayal of the event.

As Chuck Tyron discusses in his blog, The Chutry Experiment, the notion of activists filming small, unheard of events is not a novel one. But as video recording and editing equipment becomes cheaper and more mainstream, this fad is expanding beyond the most extreme of activists with agendas focused solely on propelling their ideals.

In rising frequency, we are seeing ordinary citizens transform into trusted journalists before our You Tube-hooked eyes. This cultural phenomenon, based on the rising trust in peers over big businesses, is being called the groundswell and suggests that no longer must one obtain a Journalism degree or achieve a reporting job at a media conglomerate to reach such a lofty position as to influence public opinion and alter the course of the government.

On September 12, Glenn Beck supporters charged the Capitol lawn in Washington to protest Obama’s healthcare reform and administration in general. Among them were journalists from every news organization assigned to cover the event, as well as hundreds of independent reporters that showed up in jeans and sneakers.

One of these reporters was Max Blumenthal, a tongue-in-cheek, self-proclaimed “investigative reporter” who is challenging modern journalism with a camera and a tight grasp on social media.  Blumenthal’s piece spent every second of his nearly seven minute piece to beat down and poke fun at the tea-bagger party with clever comments and smart editing used to direct the viewer’s attention from one extremist to the next. His video, posted on YouTube shortly after the event, has already reached over 107,000 views and generated almost 1,500 comments- proof that Americans are turning to social media sites to not only get news information but also to make decisions on political issues.

The day of striking deals with newspaper companies or news organizations is over because these conglomerates aren’t the only ones out there anymore; independent reporters and individual citizens are now speaking up. By enlisting the use of non-traditional social media to accelerate their exposure to audiences that would be otherwise unreachable,  citizens are bringing a new face to politics. And you can bet that on September 26 when Mt. Vernon hosts “Glenn Beck Day,” an event officially closed off to the press, everyone else’s eyes, ears, and cell phone cameras will be wide open.

Politics 2.0

24 08 2009

The media has always had a strong influence on politics and vice versa. However, with new media platforms emerging and growing in popularity, political issues are now being broadcast around the clock by journalists and ordinary citizens alike, and ultimately changing the way politics are introduced to the American people.

Political officials must now face the challenge of adapting to the influence of social media and interacting with their publics on a personal level.  Join me as I investigate and analyze the rising use of social media in coverage of political issues, political candidacy campaigns and government relations.