Sunday, April 02, 2006

New York Times Meta-News on Political Campaigns and the Internet

I can't really say that the New York Times' story "Internet Injects Sweeping Change Into U.S. Politics" is really news. Most of the article's content will not surprise anyone who regularly visits the blogosphere. However, it is meta-news. That is, the content of the story isn't news, but the fact that the story exists is. The MSM is finally realizing that the internet can be a "revolutionary" political tool. Well, duh!

Here are some choice bits from the article, in case NYT has removed it from free-access before you get a chance to look at it. I have, of course, inserted my own peanut-gallery comments.

Democrats and Republicans are sharply increasing their use of e-mail, interactive Web sites, candidate and party blogs, and text-messaging to raise money, organize get-out-the-vote efforts and assemble crowds for a rallies. The Internet, they said, appears to be far more efficient, and less costly, than the traditional tools of politics, notably door knocking and telephone banks.

I was a volunteer for Bill Bradley's presidential campaign back in 1999-2000 (a great man but not a great candidate). Anyway, going door-to-door is actually kind of fun because it's very grassroots and feels like "democracy in action." However, I do remember my toes freezing off while I was traipsing around New Hampshire before the primary. Phone-banking is another story. It is simply wretched. Cold-calling a long list of donors/rally attendees/perspective voters is monotonous and feels only a few steps away from telemarketing. So, I really hope these methods will soon be extinct.

Analysts say the campaign television advertisement, already diminishing in influence with the proliferation of cable stations, faces new challenges as campaigns experiment with technology that allows direct messaging to more specific audiences, and through unconventional means.

Political campaigns are finding new and more creative ways of advertisting themselves to us. Now we can all look forward to getting political campaign pop-ups on news sites.
This, unfortunately, sounds annoying. However, maybe I shouldn't be too pessimistic. The article says strategists are trying to use podcasts and social networking sites like Friendster to help people connect to information that is interesting to them, rather than just looking for more invasive ways to advertise.

The percentage of Americans who went online for election news jumped from 13 percent in the 2002 election cycle to 29 percent in 2004, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center after the last presidential election.

I wonder what it'll be in 2008. The article says that today 70% of Americans go online and that online election news searches more than doubled between 2002 and 2004. I wouldn't be at all surprised if 70% of Americans are getting campaign news online during the 2008 presidential elections, especially since the overall percentage of Americans online will have increased by then as well.

The article also mentions that candidates and ex- (or is it "pre-"?) candidates like John Edwards and John Kerry are blogging regularly. According to their aids, they write their posts themselves. Yeah, right. I interned in a congressional office, and the congressman didn't even sign his own greeting cards all the time, so I doubt that Edwards and Kerry are taking an hour out of their busy days to blog. Still, it's nice that they are trying to be hip and down with the kids.

categories: redefining democratization_, election blogging_

technorati tags: , , ,

2008 will be the first internet election, I think. US presidential.
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