Old Media Gets The Scoop On Obama's VP PickOld Media Gets The Scoop On Obama's VP Pick
When I woke up Saturday morning, I found a text message waiting on my iPhone from the Barack Obama campaign, informing me that the candidate named Joe Biden as running mate. But I already knew that, because I'd already gotten the news the night before -- from newspapers. Old-fashioned journalism -- wordslingers working contacts inside the Obama campaign -- leaked the story in advance of your new-fangled text messaging. Score one for the old school.
August 25, 2008
When I woke up Saturday morning, I found a text message waiting on my iPhone from the Barack Obama campaign, informing me that the candidate named Joe Biden as running mate. But I already knew that, because I'd already gotten the news the night before -- from newspapers. Old-fashioned journalism -- wordslingers working contacts inside the Obama campaign -- leaked the story in advance of your new-fangled text messaging. Score one for the old school.The Obama campaign had planned to get the news out to supporters via text messaging before it was reported through other channels. So, in that respect, the text-messaging project was a failure. But it succeeded in another way, according to John Dunbar, writing for the Associated Press: The campaign collected huge numbers of e-mail addresses and cell phone numbers, which it can use to drum up support between now and Election Day.
People can sign up for text and e-mail updates on specific issues. They can get news on campaign appearances, receive discounts for campaign merchandise, and even download Obama speech sound bites as ring tones. It's also an effective fundraising tool. Anyone who signed up for the notification on the campaign Web site was taken to a page where they could make a contribution. Overall traffic on Obama's Web site hit an all-time high Saturday. The Obama campaign said more than 48,000 people watched the live stream of Obama and Biden's first joint appearance from their Web site. By about mid-afternoon, more than $1.8 million had been contributed online. Messages also can act as a call to action, encouraging people to call their friends and encourage them to vote or donate to the campaign. The list of cell numbers is similar to campaign snail-mailing lists, but more personal and more valuable. Ken Thomas, also at the AP, has more, writing about how Obama's text-messaging efforts are part of a larger trend of politicians using MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, and other Web 2.0 tools to reach out directly to constituents: In Congress, some Republicans turned to Twitter in their protest of the Democrats' energy policies on the House floor. When the House recessed in August, microphones on the floor were turned off, the TV feeds to C-SPAN ceased and the lights dimmed, but the BlackBerrys worked. "Our voices can't be shut down," Rep. Pete Hoekstra, R-Mich., typed on his Twitter site during the GOP protest. Hoekstra said using Twitter during the protest "really opened up my eyes" to the site's potential -- the number of people following his postings grew from 10 to nearly 500 by the end of the day. His Republican colleague, John Culberson of Texas, uses Twitter a lot and has more than 3,000 followers. The Obama campaign sent text messages to voters on the days of key primary contests, and encourages supporters to attend local events and tune in to TV appearances. Text messages are powerful -- recipients can forward them to their friends, said David All, a Republican strategist: "It's going to be read by every single person -- have you ever not read a text message?" But politicians walk a tightrope using text messaging to reach out to voters. Texting is a very intimate medium, and supporters might look at text overload as spam. I doubt anybody's going to change their vote over text messaging -- but text overload might make a voter less likely to want to go out and work for their chosen candidate's campaign.
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