Social Media – bad for the future of journalism, good for candidates

Obama’s use of big data during this election helped him win the campaign.

 “The Obama campaign has used cookies to track its supporters online since the 2008 election. It spent the past 18 months creating a new, unified database, factoring in some 80 pieces of information about each person, from age, race and sex to voting history. (The campaign denied reports that it tracked visits to pornography sites in its outreach algorithms.)”

The data collected helped with every aspect of the campaign, from web targeting to TV ad-spots. “In order to decide where to buy their TV ads, the Obama campaign matched lists of voters to the names and addresses of cable subscribers, as the Washington Post, The Atlantic, and others have reported. This allowed them to analyze which channels the voters they wanted to reach were watching.”

The campaign relied on microtargeting, a tool used in the commercial world. With the ever-diversifying landscape of news, campaigns will utilize technology to make their strategy and targeting of voters ever more scientific. Where politicians once needed to schmooze a reporter, they just need to unleash cookies onto a possible voter’s computer and track their likes and dislikes, thus finding smart ways to infiltrate their daily lives.

I still dislike the pressure of journalists to use social media. Here and here are some good debates about if journalists should use Twitter (either personally or non-perssonally). Twitter creates an atmosphere of speed and sensation rather than one of research and validity. However, I think where social media will become ever more essential is within political campaigns. With staffers Tweeting corrections during debates, or hiring writers to make fun blogs that covertly support a president.

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Benjamin A Simon Election 2012 Blog

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