22 July 2007

Social Media & Politics

If you haven't already heard, politicians and major [American] news organizations are jumping on the social media bandwagon. Actually, bandwagon isn't the appropriate term to use. Typically, I think of "jumping on the bandwagon" as being associated with something trendy or fleeting, and social media is certainly here to stay. Politicians and news organization undoubtedly recognize this and are therefore taking note of how to integrate the medium with their business models. The big question right now is just how much does social media play in both of these fields? Does it dictate news stories and political platforms? Or does it merely supplement them? Personally, I don't think anyone really knows the answer (although there are definitely strong opinions about both), and we probably won't for years to come.

I bring all of this up because I just learned that CNN is hosting the first-ever Presidential video/social media debates. I'm a little surprised that I'm just hearing of this since I live much of my life online. Anyhow.... Taking place tomorrow (7/23) at 7pm EST these debates will unarguably be historic, and could determine the relevance of social media in such vital events. The concept is really quite simple: candidates will answer questions directly from the American public, via video-sharing powerhouse YouTube.com. No journalists. No panelists. No agendas. Or so we're told.

Dubbed the "CNN * YouTube Debates" the live broadcast will launch with the Democratic Presidential candidates. The Republicans will follow in mid-September. Of course, only time will tell just how much of an impact these initiatives will make, but it'll be interesting to watch.

If you're interested in taking part in this landmark event click here. The deadline for submissions is today (7/22) though, so you'll have to hurry!

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