The Role Of Social Media In Covering The Political Campaigns

With just the weekend between now and the start of the major party conventions, the amazing thing about the New Media is just how little it has impacted so far on the story. No major leaks about the vice presidential nominations, no blogger unmaskings of damaging revelations about the candidates at the top of the ticket, no shaky video of loose talk or surrogates jockeying for position.

Is is possible that the campaigns have learned how to contain the new viral media, or is something else going on? With Twitter, Qik, FriendFeed, and other social media platforms now in place and largely battle-tested for the coming storm of pre-baked circuses, why is the news so tightly controlled by the traditional networks?

Perhaps the nature of the underlying story of this election undercuts the technology equation. With a disruptive candidate like Barack Obama, people are looking to the media for less, rather than more drama. The shiny object fascination with radical technology change has given way to a more pragmatic mood, where iPhones have become commonplace and the rapid spread of information throughout the day and on the move has let the mainstream media play more to its traditional strengths as not just aggregators but synthesists of the news.

Real time bursts of information over Twitter and IM have changed how we react to events; the edge professionals have with insider notification is being smoothed out and delivered as a service to consumers via intermediaries who give away the data for the ongoing relationship. We use Facebook and other social hubs as early warning systems, insurance against being out of the loop when breaking information makes a difference in how you do your job or finding one.

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