Tag Archives: elections

Social media: it’s how we engage

According to Poynter Institute one-third of people under 40 used the Internet to follow the presidential debate.

This comes on the back of the Olympic games, which were deemed the first ‘social media’ Olympics.

The Poynter article notes that a Pew Research Centre poll released on Thursday found many Americans used digital devices simultaneously to engage with the event.

Source: Poynter Institute.

According to Poynter “the poll focused on which media Americans used during the first presidential debate. It finds 32 percent of people under 40 used digital devices while watching the debate and the same number followed public reaction live online”. It also noted “a majority (51 per cent) of people under 40 got at least some coverage online or through social media”.

Poynter says this phenomenon creates a huge demand for news organisations to provide live second-screen coverage. The Washington Post told Poynter its Politics app for the iPad saw a 44 percent jump in visits the night of the first debate, and a 600 per cent increase in usage of its Forum section that tracks political players on Twitter.

“A separate Pew Internet and American Life poll found that 27 per cent of voters with cell phones are using them to follow the election, and 35 percent have used their phone for fact-checking,” says Poynter.

This means journalists and news organisations need to be ahead of the game (or the ‘citizen journalist). They need to be live-blogging, tweeting, updating news stories on their websites continuously. This is where professional journalists’ comments can weigh heavier than ‘user-generated’ content, because the professional journalist should be across this topic, they should have a lot more knowledge on the topic, they can provide expert analysis and can source information from industry professionals. Citizen journalism is more opinion based so you are not receiving reputable, reliable and credible information.

Audiences are turning to online sites on their mobile devices to be able to watch the event, similar to an Australian watching a football match, but look to their news organisations as a reputable source for further in-depth analysis about the event. They are expecting the news media to set the agenda and to lead the conversation. This is just one of the reasons journalism is still a vital pillar within our society. Because as the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance Code of Ethics notes:

“Journalists help society to describe itself, they animate democracy and they convey information, ideas, options, a privileged role.”

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