OPA Intelligence Reports

Posted in News on 09/10/2012 By Mark Glaser & Desiree Everts

Old media meets new at conventions

2008 saw the rise of social media as a driving force behind the Obama campaign, especially in organizing. This time around, it’s become obvious that digital platforms have struck a chord with both Republicans and Democrats. “Organizers deny that they are competing against each other, but between press-release descriptions of strikingly similar digital strategies and clear competition on the same eight social platforms, it is obvious neither wants to be left behind,” explained The Hill’s Alicia Cohn and Julie Ershadi. The final day of the Democratic National Convention sparked more than 4 million tweets, roughly equal to the total number from the entire RNC, according to Twitter. “Social media is telling us a lot about the election,” Frank Strong wrote on PBS MediaShift. But he questioned whether social media will be a game changer for the election the way that TV altered the debates between Kennedy and Nixon. “That much remains to be seen, but it is another viable source of data that provides indications, and the observations should be keenly considered in conjunction with traditional polling data and focus groups.”

So how is the media adapting? It’s been old media meets new at the political conventions, as broadcast networks turn to the Internet and newspapers shoot high-definition video. “So far, it seems, the new media has decided that it wants to be the old media, and the old media has decided that it wants to be the new media,” wrote the New York Times’ Jeremy Peters. At the GOP convention, the Washington Post used an interactive video tool to allow users to interact with videos of speeches; the New York Times and the AP had their own skyboxes, and offered live-streaming coverage of the event; and ABC and Yahoo partnered for a four-hour nightly live-stream with commentary. Meanwhile, online outlets are moving in the opposite direction, with The Huffington Post using its weekly iPad magazine for long-form content, and Politico turning to the Tampa Bay Times for print coverage. “No one seems quite sure where these experiments will end up,” explained the Times’ Peters. “Privately, they concede that their streaming web videos draw extremely low traffic compared with their articles.”