The Guardian’s Martin Belam has produced a great summary of the panel debate at the launch of Nic Newman’s Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism (RISJ) paper on social media and the election, on his site currybet.net.
The research document, titled ‘UK Election 2010, mainstream media and the role of the internet’, outlines the significant role social media, in particular Twitter, played in informing the public during the election process.
One of the big questions which emerged from the panel debate was whether this social media engagement would continue now the election is over:
People need something to be engaged with. It remains to be seen whether the major parties will continue with digital campaigning, or whether, rather like leaflets, we will see a lot of them at election time and not much in between.
Outlining the main findings, Newman reportedly told the audience that Twitter became a “political newswire” as well as having a direct impact on the behaviour of politicians.
The best of the social media – jokes, spoof posters, reaction on Twitter – was reflected and amplified by the mainstream media. This ultimately influenced the behaviour of the politicians. David Cameron, for example, toned down his habit of citing anecdotal stories of people he met after it was spoofed online.
(…) William Hague announcing he was about to go back into negotiations with the Liberal Democrats via Twitter suggesting the service was beginning to be used as ‘a political newswire’.