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GOP Looks To Twitter And Other Social Media To Rebuild

The GOP is looking to Twitter and other social media to help reunite the party and rebuild its power base. Part of that strategy is to use social media to communicate directly with the people, bypassing newspapers and other traditional media, which the GOP perceives as biased against it and dying. The GOP is looking to the example of Barack Obama, who leveraged social media to build a coalition and raise funds in last year's election.
The GOP is looking to Twitter and other social media to help reunite the party and rebuild its power base. Part of that strategy is to use social media to communicate directly with the people, bypassing newspapers and other traditional media, which the GOP perceives as biased against it and dying. The GOP is looking to the example of Barack Obama, who leveraged social media to build a coalition and raise funds in last year's election.National Public Radio's On The Media reports on social media at the Conservative Political Action Congress (CPAC); you can listen or read the transcript here. The material on social media is embedded in a larger segment about the party's search for leadership and whether Rush Limbaugh has taken up that mantle (the Democrats would certainly like the American people to think so).

On The Media co-host Bob Garfield says:


In the absence of a unifying message, there was one recurring theme, to paraphrase Marshall McLuhan, make the media the message -- how to exploit the collapse of the newspaper business, how to cultivate new channels for a conservative audience and, of course, how to neutralize liberal bias. ...

Much was said about getting around what Rush Limbaugh called "drive-by media" and here emerged at least one point of consensus. The decline of the traditional media brings an opportunity in the online world, if only because the news industry's death spiral will silence many a liberal message and drive once and future conservatives to the Net. ...

The convention was teeming with young Republicans determined to master the new media skills and technology pioneered by the Barack Obama campaign.

One such was Brian Link, from Terra Eclipse, creator of the surprisingly lucrative Web site that propelled the GOP primary campaign of libertarian dark horse Ron Paul. ... Link was particularly atwitter about Twitter, the online app that suddenly has America micro-blabbing.

BRIAN LINK: It's been interesting to see how people grab onto that and turn it into a political tool. People are walking around CPAC here, Twittering, oh, I just visited this booth, I just talked with this person. And people that aren't here can kind of feel the excitement. I mean, everybody's the media now.

BOB GARFIELD: But, so far, not as many Republican everybodies as Democratic everybodies. Joe Mansour of social media consultant the David All Group is still shaking his head about the general election pasting they took online at the hands of the Obama campaign.

JOE MANSOUR: Five-hundred-million dollars raised online, whereas the McCain campaign -- I've seen the numbers -- 75 to 100 million dollars raised online.

But it's more than just the money. It's the e-mail addresses, 13 million e-mails, you know, the actions driven through Mybarackobama.

BOB GARFIELD: Nor is just e-mail addresses, Mansour says. It's the art and science of building a community online, feeding off the ideas articulated by a party leader.

JOE MANSOUR: Having, you know, the coolest tools only takes you so far. I mean, I think Barack Obama was successful not because he had a really cool Web site and not because he had a really cool social networking site, but because he was a unifying figure that could unite the different parts of the Democratic Party, and they could get behind him, and he was a transformative figure. And I think that you need that on the Republican side. I mean, we're -- we're looking for -- we're looking for who that person's going to be.

But can Internet news media replace old media? Newspapers, TV, and radio stations have big budgets with which to pay teams of investigative journalists and send correspondents around the world to follow stories. Bloggers don't have that kind of budget -- they operate on a shoestring, frequently while holding down a day job.

Nicholas Carlson writes on the blog Silicon Valley Insider how the world might look without newspapers and other big media. It'll spin along just fine:

He quotes from a New York Times article in which writer Richard Pérez-Peña "tries to imagine a world without physical newspapers. He doesn't get very far:"


No one yet has unlocked the puzzle of supporting a large newsroom purely on digital revenue, a fact that may presage an era of news organizations that are smaller, weaker, and less able to fulfill their traditional function as the nation's watchdog.

Carlson responds:


We love (and subscribe to) our local paper, but find Richard's vision unimaginative and even a bit arrogant. Online publications aren't weak, they're just niche-focused.

If newspapers went away tomorrow, people would get their national politics from Politico, their celebrity news from TMZ, their sports news from countless team-specific publications (my favorite is PewterReport.com), their local politics from a guy with a laptop, flip cam, a WordPress account and an ax to grind, their business news from here, and their world news from a suddenly-crucial-to-subscribe-to New York Times or Wall Street Journal.

Or, more likely, 66% of them would continue to get their news from TV just like they do now. Only instead of getting all their story ideas from the newspaper, news producers would learn to get comfortable with zooming through lots of RSS feeds.