Twitter may be many things, but I’ve never heard of the social network compared to dynamite before. But that’s how two of the top press operatives on the presidential campaign trail described Twitter‘s impact on the race.
A post-mortem of the presidential election hosted by CBS News featured Jen Psaki, traveling press secretary for the Obama campaign and Kevin Madden, an advisor to Republican presidential nominee. Both worked on the 2008 race and each described how Twitter fundamentally changed how they approached their jobs in this election cycle.
Both agreed that digital platforms made 2012 far different than the 2008 campaign. Here’s how they described Twitter’s impact on the 2012 race.
Because of Twitter, journalists were much more competitive with each other in a race to see who was “snarkier.”
Twitter also leveled the playing field among reporters, so that, a 23-year old cub reporter was tweeting the same way a journalist with 30 years of experience was sharing on Twitter.
Psaki admitted that Twitter created an endless news cycle. As a result, each day featured a different Twitter strategy, with new hash tags and messages for different audiences—volunteers, surrogates and media.
Madden, who likened Twitter to TNT, said it was important that “digital was integrated into everything.” He said that “with so many instruments at our disposal,” his job was like “conducting a symphony,” ensuring everyone was on the same page.
Each campaign carefully monitored Twitter to see what the left was saying, what the right was saying and what political operatives were sharing to get a steady read on the state of the race.
Psaki added that Twitter became “a shiny ball” that gets chased, as nuggets, such as details about the crowd size at a rally or a line in a speech, are shared immediately.
Speaking of Twitter and journalists, Jeff Jarvis of the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism describes the impact of Twitter on journalism today in a streamed discussion now online at Boing Boing. Jarvis says:
The world of journalism has changed in the Internet era. Newsrooms are significantly smaller now than they were 10 years ago, and news is no longer a once-a-day product, but instead a constant flow of information. The rise of Twitter brought concerns within the industry – would this overwhelming source of direct raw information put professional reporters out of business? Journalists are now faced with the challenge of adapting their roles in this digital era, finding new ways to add value to content, and helping to ensure that the Internet is changing our worldview for the better.
Readers, did you use Twitter to track the 2012 presidential election and did it impact how you voted?