A groundbreaking election for Web journalism

So many links in a busy week of elections and the transformation of news to the digital age:

• What can media company executives learn from President-elect Barack Obama’s Web-savvy presidential campaign to better serve readers? Quite a lot, since a powerful example has been set on how to build and engage an online community:

“If all you are doing is reporting, writing grant applications and taking whatever advertising falls your way, you probably are not building the personal relationship network that could allow you to develop readers and advertisers the way the Obama campaign developed its voters.”

• Obama’s use of YouTube and live streaming makes him “America’s first small-screen president,” with an estimated 2,000+ videos released during by his campaign his two-year run for the White House.

picture-81• Voters were asked to talk about the elections via YouTube’s “Video Your Vote” site, and more than 1,500 users explained their votes and posted them online.

• The online/mobile beast rages on as the primary news source for more and more of us. When the election was called at 11 p.m. Tuesday, it was a record-breaking moment for online news traffic. But some think the drama of TV can’t be replicated online.

• That discussion should heat up, with some asserting that the new Web media hit of this campaign,  über-polling site FiveThirtyEight.com, has changed the whole dynamic of election night: picture-32

“People won’t be turning to TV to see a dot-commer give them the election scoop. People will be going online and watching live video at pure-play dot-com sites. TV will not rule the roost. If the YouTube phenomenon can completely revolutionize viewing of streaming recorded video in just one election cycle, what idiot would deny that its live — even live high-definition — component won’t be on its way before President Obama runs for a second term?

• The elections may be over, but “tweeting” on the campaign is still going strong on Twitter’s election stream, twitterlogo1and the service plagued by crashes in recent months held up rather well. And mainstream news organizations made ample use of the microblogging site to rapidly update election returns and post original content and other multimedia features.

• Print newspapers might have had one of their last great press runs Wednesday churning out special editions that people actually waited in line to purchase. But a former newspaper editor who quit instead of presiding over more newsroom cuts admits he’s getting most of his news these days online:

“But the fact is, if my several newspapers disappeared tomorrow, my life would go on, a bit emptier for the loss of routine and tactile experience, but no less informed.

“Just to emphasize, this isn’t a new or original thought, not even close. But I’m a civilian now, so the actual experience is new to me.

What to do?”

• Here’s a prediction that figures to ring true: future elections “must be fought online.” Ditto for the future of journalism.

• And finally, did the blogosphere “save” American democracy? Ex-NPR ombudsman Jeff Dvorkin thinks so:

“The late Clinton years and through the first Bush Administration, the mainstream media has become so intimidated that they effectively engaged in an act of journalistic self-censorship that is unique in American history. 9/11 only encouraged that tendency as we all reacted with horror at what happened in New York and Washington. And the Bush Administration was quick and nimble in taking advantage of that, with the help of some of their media allies. . . .

“What helped the mainstream media find its voice again was, I believe the arrival of the internet and the bloggers who love it.


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