Speaking to Journalism.co.uk after last night’s event on the role that new media will play in the forthcoming election, Matthew McGregor, London director of Blue State Digital – the agency behind Barack Obama’s new media presidential campaigning, said it was important not to overlook journalists’ own use of social media in reporting and gathering the news.
The interesting thing for me about blogging is that so many journalists have started blogging to try and get their stories out quicker, to try and publish stories that they are know are interested and printable, but just don’t make it into the paper.
Local political newspapers and their blogs will be interesting [during the 2010 election campaigns]. For example, the Nottingham Evening Post has a politics blogger, who will break stories that might not get into the newspaper, but will be of national importance.
But the rise of the blogger outside of journalism will be a game changer for those in the profession covering the election, added McGregor. While the pre-preparedness of the party leaders ahead of the TV debates may save them from newsworthy gaffes, as suggested by BBC political editor Nick Robinson, the way in which journalists cover the news and interact with candidates will leave them open to ‘gotcha’ moments. The dissection of the National Bullying Helpline story is just the start.
A game-changer for local media?
The openness that politicians have with Twitter and Facebook means they can’t hide and there’s no point trying to, because authenticity can’t be faked.
Journalists covering the election from a local angle have a lot to gain from using social networks to track candidates, suggested McGregor. Candidates may well try to bypass mainstream media to connect with voters – local media needs to get in on the act in this interim space.
There’s also an opportunity for local journalists to push their election stories to a national level using new media channels, he added, echoing comments made by fellow panellist DJ Collins, Google’s director of communications and public affairs EMEA on the benefits of this to the general public.
You’re not just local anymore, especially during an election (…) and people vote a home who have moved away.