Archive for the ‘social media’ Category


With Every Tweet and Flickr Photo, White House Shows Us Their Human Side

March 24, 2010

Originally published at Mediaite.

In case you missed it yesterday, the White House released a new album of Flickr photos of the last year in health reform that has been burning up the internet.  My Twitter feed today has been filled with people ooh-ing and aah-ing over the photos.

White House photographer Pete Souza captures a glimpse of behind-closed-doors moments at the White House from this past week and the past year as the White House worked to pass the health care bill — and they are, well, heartwarming. We see Hillary Clinton hugging President Obama; White House staffers cheering, applauding, and hugging as they watched Congress vote on the bill late Sunday night; Obama fist-bumping a young doctor who grins ear-to-ear; Nancy Pelosi holding her grandson and grinning next to Obama a day before the historic House vote.


Flickr is not a new tool; people have been using it to share their important moments with friends and family for years. But the Obama White House is the first White House to use Flickr to share their photos and are publicly documenting private moments that, until now, had remained hidden from the American people.

On another note, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs also recently got on Twitter and though he started off slow, he has adjusted to the medium pretty quickly. This morning he cracked jokes with the rest of the Twitterverse, telling his followers that this video of a misguided White House staffer who bears a resemblance to Gibbs was most definitely not him. And then, perhaps most notably, after the historic bill-signing ceremony today, Gibbs responded to Vice President Biden’s earlier f-bomb in his excitement over the health care bill with a tweet remarking “Yes, Mr. Vice President, you’re right…”

Read the rest here.


My post at Mediaite: What the Sunday Shows Need is a New Media Makeover

January 13, 2010

This was  originally posted at Mediaite. And it was also quoted in The Nation, NPR, and Politico.

“Since Sunday shows never really appealed to 20-year-olds, Thompson thinks that trying to skew younger or add new technology and graphics isn’t likely to work. “Even before cable and the Internet, you wouldn’t have gotten younger viewers,” Thompson said.”
— from “Will the Sunday shows ever change?” Politico, January 9, 2010.

A debate has been raging online about the Sunday morning political talk shows, one of the venerated old institutions in American political discourse. It was started by Jay Rosen of NYU, who tweeted that maybe Sunday talk shows should fact check everything their guests say on Sundays and run it online every Wednesday.

Today, Politico’s Michael Calderone ran a thoughtful piece on whether Sunday shows will ever change, including commentary from several media personalities. They all agreed on one thing: the Sunday show format has changed very little over the years, and has done almost nothing to adapt to the new media age that we now live in.  And as such, their audience is shrinking.  Their guests are largely older white males and Washington insiders, their show formats haven’t changed since they were first started, and they rarely focus on issues that most Americans care about.  They’re Beltway shows that appeal only to Beltway audiences.

What troubled me the most was a quote in Calderone’s piece from Robert Thompson, a professor at Syracuse, who argued that the case for modernizing Sunday shows wasn’t that relevant because young people wouldn’t care enough to watch the shows anyway.

I stopped reading right there. I am 21 years old and have been watching Sunday talk shows for as long as I can remember, thanks to a very politically active father. And yeah, that puts me in that tiny category of political junkies who will watch Sunday shows no matter what.  But as a 21-year-old I resent having my entire generation casually brushed off as uninterested in Sunday morning talk shows.  Perhaps my cohorts would tune in every Sunday if they felt like these shows catered to them and spoke on the issues they care about. We are a very politically active generation, and we proved that in the 2008 election.  So it’s not that we’re not interested – the problem is that the networks are failing to adapt and provide programming that appeals to and informs the masses.

I fully believe that the Sunday morning talk shows need a new media makeover, and I have a handful of ideas for how they can do so.  I admit that I know absolutely nothing about what goes into the making of a political talk show. But what I do know  is that my generation wants transparency, participation, and engagement in their political process – and their news.  So here are my suggestions on how the Sunday shows might undertake a new media makeover that could finally usher them into the year 2010:

Take Questions From Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube

We may be living in the YouTube age, but from the look of most Sunday shows you’d never know it. Remember the 2008 presidential election debates, where CNN and YouTube asked citizens to submit questions to ask of the candidates, and then featured selected video questions during the debate? Would it kill us to allow citizens to submit questions to the newsmakers and politicians on Meet The Press, Face The Nation, and This Week? Whether it’s via Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube videos, allowing citizens to ask questions would give them a connection to the shows, engage them, and allow them to play a role in setting the news agenda. And talk show hosts like David Gregory and Bob Schieffer should help facilitate that citizen-politician connection. Although David Gregory, Bob Schieffer, and George Stephanopoulos all have Twitter accounts, their level of engagement with fans is very low. Schieffer and Stephanopoulos’s Twitter accounts aren’t even really them, but are merely RSS feeds of updates from their websites.

And while we’re on the subject, the only Sunday show with a Facebook page and Twitter account is Meet The Press. And even then, their Facebook and Twitter are both used as one-way, broadcast mediums only. The MTP Facebook page is used solely to push out promotional content for each week’s show, and they receive little response from Facebook users.  But what if instead they posted a status update asking citizens: what do you want to ask Janet Napolitano on Meet The Press next Sunday? What if there was a chance David Gregory would actually ask your question to Napolitano on air? I guarantee you citizens of all ages and all backgrounds would start paying more attention if they felt like the networks were paying attention to them.

Continue reading the rest at Mediaite.


Can Twitter Help Raise Awareness for Gaza?

December 27, 2009

Today marks the one-year anniversary of the 22-day Israeli military raid on Gaza. Gaza, one of the two Palestinian territories currently under Israeli occupation.

I know Gaza is not a topic of polite cocktail party or happy hour conversation for most people. Most people probably aren’t quite aware of where Gaza is (here is a map for that), especially since it’s a tiny territory that’s only about 139 square miles on the coast of the Mediterranean.

So it is probably not widely known that one year ago, Israeli military forces killed 1,400 Palestinians, of which over 900 were civilians and over 300 were children. And considerable damage was done to Gazan roads, houses, and infrastructure — most of which has still not been repaired.

The UN Secretary General has acknowledged that Gaza is currently suffering from a dire human rights crisis. Since the attacks last year, the UN says, Gazans have been denied basic human rights and have been denied the resources to rebuild their infrastructure.

The mainstream media has hardly reported on the ongoing crisis there.  They’re focused on other stories — whatever sells the most papers or the most advertising, I guess.

So human rights activists around the world are using unconventional channels to air their concerns about the lasting human rights crisis in Gaza — they’re mounting a Twitter campaign to raise awareness. Buoyed by the success of the Iran election activists, who tweeted their observations about the controversial Iranian election and subsequent protests using the hashtag #iranelection, and capured the world’s attention — now Palestinian activists are hoping to start a movement of their own using Twitter as their primary tool of communication.

Their hashtag is #gaza, and today, December 27, from 3 pm – 7 pm GMT, they are encouraging everyone they know to tweet using the hashtag #gaza in the hopes of making Gaza the #1 trending topic on Twitter — which is no easy feat, given the millions of people using Twitter everyday.

The topic was already trending even before the campaign was scheduled to start at 3 pm GMT. It hasn’t hit #1 yet, but has been in the trending topics all day Sunday as Twitter users from all over the world share their thoughts, hopes, and fears for Gaza. The hope, of course, is to generate attention from the mainstream media and the larger public similar to the way the Iranian election protesters did.

The power of a trending topic, however, may seem silly to some but should not be underestimated.  Getting a campaign’s hashtag in the trending topics on Twitter makes the tag visible to everyone visiting — bringing the topic into the public consciousness and into the forefront of discussion. Twitter users who aren’t already aware of the issue will, hopefully, click on the trending topic to learn more about it — and maybe even choose to join in.

(images: Jillian York and Global Voices Online)

Will it work? We’ll know this week. My hope is that bloggers will start to pick up the story first as they notice that #Gaza has been sitting in the trending topics on Twitter all day, and then mainstream media should take a cue from political bloggers and start to report on it as well.

You can view all the #gaza tweets here.


Quick hit: Mainstream Media Using Twitter Lists

November 9, 2009

I know no one wants to read another boring post about “Top 10 ways to use Twitter lists” so I promise this isn’t that. I just wanted to highlight what I think is a very innovative use of Twitter lists by the mainstream media – probably the last people I’d expect to have found an innovative way to use Twitter lists this quickly.

Several mainstream media organizations, particularly the New York Times, have been using Twitter lists to group together users live-tweeting details about a breaking news story from on-the-ground locations. Over the past weeks, they’ve had lists for the Ft. Hood shooting and the Orlando shooting. On a lighter note, they’ve got lists for the World Series, food policy, and DC politics, among others. An interesting thing about these lists is many of the NYT-created lists include not only bloggers, but reporters from other mainstream media outlets. I guess that’s just one of the many ways new media is subtly changing the way old media works.

DC politics


What will happen to books in a digital era?

November 1, 2009

Remember CDs? I don’t think I have bought one since 2001, and now that I have an iPhone, iPod, iTunes, there’s no need to ever buy a CD again. One could argue there’s not much need to buy music either, since I spend more time listening online to Pandora or anyways.

So what will happen to books? I wonder if the publishing industry will meet the same fate as the music industry. I still buy printed books — but many people I know have switched over to the Kindle, and Kindle readers buy two to three times as many books as book readers. Or they’re just ditching books altogether and getting their reading from blogs and online magazines and news sites.

Working on the LWM social media team has been interesting because we’re essentially trying to use social media to promote and sell more copies of a print book, which is an interesting concept when you think about it. It’s harder to get people’s attention for a book when people are too busy to read any more and prefer to get their news and information in 30-second bits rather than long-form reporting and writing. And we’re trying to use social media, the very thing that’s contributing to the decline of longer-form writing and journalism, to do that.

So my question is: what will happen to books? Do you still buy books? Will actual hard copy books go the way of the CD?


Talking CongressCamp on Gov2.0 Radio

October 4, 2009

A couple weeks ago I had the chance to join Adriel Hampton, Jim Gilliam, and Alan Silberberg on Gov2.0 Radio to talk about CongressCamp, an unconference I participated in here in DC in early September which focused on issues of how citizens can better engage with Congress using online / social media tools. CongressCamp attendees were a good mix of citizens and Congressional staffers, who helped us better understand the challenges Congressional offices run into while trying to use online tools to manage constituent communications.

If you’re interested in CongressCamp, our radio talk should provide a great recap of some of the interesting issues that came up as a result of the 2-day unconference. An audio recording of the show is available here.



Patrick Swayze: A Reminder That All News Is Going Social

September 15, 2009

An exchange between myself and my roommate tonight (she works in publishing).

Roommate: I just heard Patrick Swayze died today. I can’t believe it!

Me: I can’t believe it either. I heard about it the instant the story broke on Twitter. I don’t even need to read the news anymore because the second it happens, everyone starts talking about it.

Roommate: See from a publishing standpoint, that’s terrible! I don’t even use Twitter.

Me: Where did you hear the news?

Roommate: NPR.

Me: Oh, that’s good.

Roommate: Well, that was actually only because someone posted it on Facebook.

Kind of makes you wonder…what is going to happen to the news? Where will it be in five years? Will it just become secondary to social media?