Tuesday, 2 March 2010

It will be the leaders' tv debates wot wins it

 There seems to be a growing consensus that the most influential media in the coming General Election will be the old - in the form of the tv debates between the party leaders - and not the new.
After listening to a panel, heavily weighted with new media experts, the audience at a debate entitled: '2010: the first new media election' at City University voted 75% to 25%  that the television debates would have a greater influence on the outcome of the General Election than new media.
BBC political editor Nick Robinson said the biggest moment of the election campaign so far was Piers Morgan's ITV interview with Gordon Brown.
He claimed  the new media political debate was dominated by those who thought Gordon Brown was corrupt and David Cameron a fraud. "Most people don't think that. On Twitter and blogs there isn't space for those people. For people who want to know the arguments."
Robinson said he no longer read most of the comments on his blog because it was "a waste of time" as the posters either abused him, politicians or each other.
He said it had taken five-and-a-half decades to get the party leaders to agree to hold the televised debates which would each be 90 minutes of serious discussion on the issues. He expected a "good audience" for the debates would be around 10 million viewers.
Professor Ivor Gaber, of City University, said: "The party leaders' debates are a boost for traditional media" but added that Twitter was the "Joker in the pack" because it was anarchic and unpredictable.
Matthew McGregor, of Blue State Digital, which supplied technology for the Obama presidential campaign, claimed: "The way in which journalists report the tv debates will be shaped online." He also said social media will be used to galvanise party supporters. "Activating the activists will be the untold story of the election. Tweets don't win elections, people do and social media can organise them."
Rishi Saha, head of new media for the Conservative Party, said: "Every political party is trying to adopt a social media model to organise supporters."
Political blogger Rupa Haq suggested social media was best at "online mobilisation for single issues rather than party politics."
Robinson did say he believed that clips from the leaders' debates - along with any campaign gaffes caught on cameraphones - posted on YouTube and the internet could influence the outcome of the election.
  • It's the second pre-election debate I've been to where the "traditional media" has come out on top of "new media" but is it sensible to pitch one against the other? As John Thompson, of journalism.co.uk, tweeted about the debate: "Hang on, surely the social media debate around the TV debates will have a big impact? Not an either/or question, complementary."

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