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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Social Media, Journalism, and Politics

Ravi Somaiya reports at The New York Times:
Facebook now has a fifth of the world — about 1.3 billion people — logging on at least monthly. It drives up to 20 percent of traffic to news sites, according to figures from the analytics companySimpleReach. On mobile devices, the fastest-growing source of readers, the percentage is even higher, SimpleReach says, and continues to increase.
The social media company is increasingly becoming to the news business what Amazon is to book publishing — a behemoth that provides access to hundreds of millions of consumers and wields enormous power. About 30 percent of adults in the United States get their news on Facebook, according to a study from the Pew Research Center. The fortunes of a news site, in short, can rise or fall depending on how it performs in Facebook’s News Feed.
Though other services, like Twitter and Google News, can also exert a large influence, Facebook is at the forefront of a fundamental change in how people consume journalism. Most readers now come to it not through the print editions of newspapers and magazines or their home pages online, but through social media and search engines driven by an algorithm, a mathematical formula that predicts what users might want to read.
It is a world of fragments, filtered by code and delivered on demand. For news organizations, said Cory Haik, senior editor for digital news at The Washington Post, the shift represents “the great unbundling” of journalism. Just as the music industry has moved largely from selling albums to songs bought instantly online, publishers are increasingly reaching readers through individual pieces rather than complete editions of newspapers or magazines. A publication’s home page, said Edward Kim, a co-founder of SimpleReach, will soon be important more as an advertisement of its brand than as a destination for readers.
Pew reports:
In the growing social media space, most users encounter a mix of political views. Butconsistent conservatives are twice as likely as the typical Facebook user to see political opinions on Facebook that are mostly in line with their own views (47% vs. 23%).Consistent liberals, on average, hear a somewhat wider range of views than consistent conservatives – about a third (32%) mainly see posts in line with their own opinions.
But that doesn’t mean consistent liberals necessarily embrace contrasting views.Roughly four-in-ten consistent liberals on Facebook (44%) say they have blocked or defriended someone on social media because they disagreed with something that person posted about politics. This compares with 31% of consistent conservatives and just 26% of all Facebook users who have done the same.
NBC reports:
When it comes to politics, social media is no longer a secret weapon. On Nov. 4, more than 90 percent of the politicians vying for votes will be on Twitter and Facebook.
"The social media IQ of candidates has risen a lot since 2008," Nick Schaper, who served as director of digital media for House Speaker John Boehner from 2007 to 2011, told NBC News.

"They understand that it's a critical component for any serious campaign now," said Schaper, currently president of social media consultancy firm Engage. "This is no longer a gimmick."
The numbers speak for themselves. When it comes to both incumbents and challengers in the midterm elections, 92 percent of them are on Twitter, a company spokesperson told NBC News.
Every single incumbent is on Facebook, along with 94 percent of their opponents, a Facebook spokesperson told NBC News. A number of politicians — including Democratic Senators Corey Booker and Mark Begich — have learned to master the art of the selfie on Instagram.