Citizen Journalism and Politics

The internet is a huge part of our daily lives We can search for jobs, recipes, nannies and conduct research searches for school along with all sorts of other things. Then along came social networking sites (SNS). Boom! Just when you thought you couldn’t get any more unfocused, you find yourself constantly checking your various accounts (not to mention how often you check your email!). But, SNS just isn’t for catching up with friends and/or family or sharing photos, it can be used as a sources for news as well.  Many media outlets are riding the social media wave. In fact, politicians are not getting onboard.

According to David Carr of the NY Times, social media played a big role in getting President Obama into office. “Like a lot of Web innovators, the Obama campaign did not invent anything completely new. Instead, by bolting together social networking applications under the banner of a movement, they created an unforeseen force to raise money, organize locally, fight smear campaigns and get out the vote that helped them topple the Clinton machine and then John McCain and the Republicans.”

So many people around the world use SNS and it can be a great way for politicians to promote their “brand” (themselves) and keep themselves in the public eye.  Plus, I think people feel like the know the candidate/politician because they may have their voice heard where it normally would not get heard. According to Dr. Darren G. Lilleker, a lecturer and researcher in political communication at Bournemouth University, “…online environment is becoming a key communicational tool for those who seek election, and potentially a key source of information for the voter; thus an important location to place strategic branded information.

But what happens when tweeting goes bad? Unfortunately, the days of making random comments and then back peddling back saying they were taken out of context are over when it comes to SNS. Everything you post (photos, comments, etc…) is displayed for the world to see any time they are ready to view it. With this fact in mind, you would think that it would make politicians stay on their toes, but this has not been the case.  Take for example, the situation with Democratic Congressman Anthony Weiner. Weiner sent sexually suggestive pictures and messages to women that were later posted on other sites. All of the scandals and bad press lead to Weiner finally resigning from office, on June 26, 2011.

White House hopefully, Herman Cain is now feeling the heat from social media. The former National Restaurant Association CEO has had sexual allegation scandals play out via Twitter.  In an article posted by abc NEWS it states, “Social media and the blogosphere are making it virtually impossible to respond to every source of criticism, said Arjen Boin,  an associate professor of public administration at Louisiana State University who studies crisis management. The Internet is creating a “democratization of the crisis process,” by expanding the number of people reporting and commenting on a possible scandal, he said.” It will be interesting to see how the election in 2012 will be affected by citizen journalism and in the years to come how citizen journalism will affect the media as we know it today.

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