Media, New Technology and The Elections

Members of the College of Journalism and Communications advisory councils spent the day making presentations and then meeting with students. This panel discussed how technology use by the candidates has changed the Presidential campaign and how the media have changed their coverage and reporting. A few highlights from the panel — from left to right (in seating but not necessarily political leanings).

Moderator Rick Hirsch, managing editor for multimedia at The Miami Herald, and vice chair of the University of Florida Journalism Advisory Council.

  • Posted comments are the second or third most read of the Miami Herald every day.
  • If media organizations monitor at the pre-publication stage of blogs, they are responsible for the content. Better to monitor at the post-publication stage.

Blake Fontenay, editorial writer, The Memphis Commercial Appeal.
Was asked to begin blogging seven to eight years ago. Has different approach than his editorial writing when he is the voice of the newspaper.
Commercial media can stay viable as an opinion source (than talk radio or bloggers) by being better informed and better written.

Garrett M. Graff, editor at large of Washingtonian, D.C.’s leading city and politics magazine.
Predicts that Barack Obama will win the Presidential race due in large part to the campaigns effective use of technology. Used online fundraising to overpower Hillary Clinton and how can overspend John McCain. Cell phones very effectively used by Obama campaign, starting with text messaging of naming vice-presidential candidate.

Jim Baltzelle, Florida AP bureau chief.
Technology enables the AP to have faster and more accurate election information from AP reporters in the field than from the official election headquarters.
A key role for the mainstream media is checking accuracy. The St. Pete Times that has checked more than 790 facts related to the campaign and rates the truthfulness of political statements and political ads.

During the Q&A section, I asked about including blogging in the journalism curriculum.
Graff: “Every journalism and public relations major should have a blog.”
Hirsch: “Blogs are a way for young journalists to practice moves they need to have.”
Blake: Have a blog “of substance versus a personal blog.”

Great timing for this panel and their emphasis on blogging, as that’s the topic for the lecture in MMC 2100 tomorrow.

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