Search This Blog

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Digital Conventions

The second edition of our book will have a boxed feature on the impact of social media and communications technology. AP reports how the national party organizations are adapting their conventions:
Democrats and Republicans are using social media to turn their national conventions away from the smoke-filled rooms of yore and into meetings where anyone who wants to get involved is just a click away, no matter where they are.
Both parties' ambitious plans reflect the maturation of social media sites that played a much smaller role in the conventions four years ago. The Republicans call theirs a "convention without walls," while the Democrats say their gathering will be "the most open and accessible in history."
Democrats will not just show prime-time speeches live on the Internet, but will also stream caucus meetings and the council discussions of the party's platform and ideals over the Web. Republicans have hired a full-time blogger and a full-time digital communications manager to do nothing but engage people online.
The conventions' Facebook and Twitter sites are already stoking interest in the events, with photos of the Republican stage under construction in Tampa or profiles of Democratic volunteers and delegates. Users can interact with a mouse click, such as one who urged friends to help the GOP convention Twitter feed muster more followers than its counterpart. Both had more than 10,000 followers Friday.
Social media was still in its infancy four years ago. The number of items posted on Twitter on Election Day 2008 is equal to about six minutes worth of tweets today, the social media company recently wrote on its blog.
Keach Hagey writes at The Wall Street Journal:
Political conventions, long the ultimate made-for-TV presentation, this year are coming of age as digital-media events—highlighting the decline of network television coverage of the gatherings.
When Republicans convene next week in Tampa, Fla., and Democrats the week after in Charlotte, N.C., major broadcast networks will use the Internet to provide the kind of extensive coverage they long ago abandoned on their airwaves. 
NBC, in fact, is likely to forgo prime-time TV coverage entirely of the Democratic convention the night of Wednesday, Sept. 5, when it is contractually bound to air the kickoff game of the NFL season between the New York Giants and the Dallas Cowboys.

In response, organizers of the Democratic convention moved Vice President Joe Biden's speech from its traditional Wednesday night slot to Thursday. NBC's website and its sibling cable channel MSNBC plan to cover Wednesday's events live, including a speech by former President Bill Clinton.

While ABC, NBC and CBS streamed the conventions on their websites in 2008, that was before the iPad and other tablets, the explosive growth of smartphones and the rise of online video as a truly competitive medium to television.