Old Media Noticing New Media In Georgia

With the 10th Congressional being one of the few political shows in town, in the country for that matter, won’t be long before Big Media notices all our Little Media efforts here in Georgia, just as the Athens Banner-Herald has. Especially if Marlow makes it to a runoff on June 19th. Then the big guys will be all over us, trust me, because we can then, and only then, say that New Media is likely impacting the political process in the Peach State. Likely.

I caution anyone to use extreme caution when believing a word out of a political advisor’s mouth right now about new media. Not only do they tend not have a clue about new media as a whole, they don’t have a clue about the impact of new media on voter behavior. So when people make statements like this from the OnlineAthens story:

“Unless a (newspaper) story’s written about it, the people viewing it (an online video) probably know how they’re going to vote anyway,” (Emil) Runge said.

…trust that they’re pulling statements out of their as* book of facts.

No one, at this point in time, has a clue whether a “traditional” print story about a YouTube video will impact voter behavior or not. Just as no one has a clue whether watching a YouTube video will translate into feet to the polls. There simply is no data right now to support any kind of “new media” political reality.

Let’s hope that some of our fine Georgia (national?) pollsters will seize the momentum of this special election on June 19th to get out there and gather us up some good, hard data on whether or not “new media” influenced not only:

a.) how people voted.

b.) But also did new kinds of media get folks off their butts and actually out of the house to vote at all?

In the meantime, don’t believe any hype coming from “traditional” campaigns on any side about what the Internet vs. traditional media will or will not do for them. They simply don’t know. Anyone trying to dazzle you with statements about the impact of any kind of media on politics right now is simply flying by the seat of their (old media advice) pants.

33 comments

  1. Doug Deal says:

    Emil was a friend of my in college, and he used to tell me that in order to succeed in politics in Georgia you had to be a Democrat because the Republicans would never win in the south. That was 1990.

    I imagine his current prognostication was founded on the same sound basis as the previous one.

  2. Common Sense says:

    Let’s see 1000 views on youtube from people already reading political blogs…yeah that’s gonna sway an election let’s throw money at it! Has anyone on PP been swayed by an online video…ever?

    Numa boy might have had an impact but remember Macca didn’t do anything till the real media covered it.

  3. SpaceyG says:

    Common Sense… remember the outcome: Macaca lost. He was scheduled to win. The point IS, and you make it in a kinda f-ed up way, Big Media does notice Little Media. So why do you think people keep at it?

  4. Common Sense says:

    “Big Media does notice Little Media”

    Right, so read the comment by Emil Runge, no one noticed till the real media address it.

    And people keep at it because politics has finally become like sports and everyone who thinks they know how to play can now go to the Y (outube).

  5. SpaceyG says:

    Read it again… He’s saying a newpaper story can influence how people who view online videos go vote. That doesn’t make any sense. It could be that the quote was edited down too much to make much sense though. But the point is, no one, you or I or Emil or Baby Jesus, can say right now what viewing an online video will or will not do to influence voting behavior. AGAIN, we do not have that kinda data available — yet. He’s just making up something that goes along with the status quo. The status quo is changing, that we all can agree on.

  6. Bill Simon says:

    People knew about Google before Google hit “Big Media.”

    But, more to the point about the 10th CD, the portion of the voters who are Internet-savvy enough to have influence might only be at the extreme margins. And, then of course, these folks have to get their butts to the polls.

    See, my impression is that most of the “Moveon.org” crowd spend more time bitching than knocking on doors to get vote out.

  7. SpaceyG says:

    Funny, they happened to get out of the house enough to put Dems back on control of Congress. But in Georgia, who’s to say? Most of the crackers here think Guy Sharpe’s still on their TV sets telling ’em how to go vote.

  8. Bill Simon says:

    Spacey,

    Didja ever think that it was due to the ‘Pubs disappointing so many of their constituents that their constituents stayed home on Election Day while the normal rif-raff of Dem voters did go to the polls?

  9. SpaceyG says:

    Nope BS, can’t say I ever have thought about that, but I’ll take it under my considerable consideration…

    OK, time’s up!

  10. SpaceyG says:

    BS: BTW, are you in Atlanta? Reason I ask is that I’ll be moderating an Atlanta Press Club panel on “New Media and Citizen Journalism” (at the Commerce Club I think) on June 7th. As a user of new media, and part of the “respected opposition” here, I would love to see you, and a variety of views and voices involved in New Media at this particular forum. It’s the first time the APC has formally acknowledged “other than traditional” media with a discussion, so I’m hoping for a go0d turnout. I’ll post details here as they become available.

  11. Ben Marshall says:

    Bill Simon is right, going out and knocking on doors will have a far substantial greater impact than sitting at the office and making youtube videos about your opponent.

    The point is, knocking on doors and having a good ground campaign has been proven to win campaigns, but there’s never been anything to show blogs and internet videos win anything.

  12. spaceygracey says:

    Exactly what I’m saying Ben… because blogs, videos, etc. have NOW been added to the (GA) campaign mix, their impact has yet to be measured. So you have no idea what you’re talking about NOW either. You might have had your clue LAST year, but this year, and especially ’08, are going to be a little different. I’d withhold such know-it-all media & politics statements until… further notice.

  13. Holly says:

    Hm. How about a person who’s involved with a 10th district campaign gives her assessment?

    I think that new media is a good part of a comprehensive communications strategy, but I can tell you that one-on-one contact is still more effective than blogs. I’m not belittling the impact blogs have, but it doesn’t beat personal contact.

    The doors we knock on and the homes we call are voters who are then more likely to go out to the polls. They have been asked personally to go vote, which puts it in their head that there’s an election.

    The people to whom I write personal postcards with a reminder to vote on June 19th and to please consider Jim when they do are more likely to go to the polls than those who get no reminder.

    That’s grassroots at its best, and it’s effective.

    Given that I live in the 10th and have been here many years, I can tell you that the average voter isn’t hanging out on YouTube. Most aren’t obsessively checking campaign web sites. There are, what, eleven of us from the 10th who post on PeachPundit? (I’m counting myself, Bowersville, Jackson, HungarianAngel, Lee, Tony R, Federalist, Jeff, Donkey Kong, IndyInjun, and DAMY46. . . anyone else?) New media has yet to change the habits around here.

    It might be different in Atlanta, but Atlanta we are not.

  14. I haven’t talked to Emil about this, but has it occurred to anyone that maybe he was just kissing a little butt with a traditional journalist to help get a story written about what he really wants people to pay attention to (the videos).

    It’s true that we don’t know what kind of impact online videos or just online campaigning in general has at this point. We suspect that the people watching it are just the intense partisans or followers of politics, I think that’s probably about right at this point, but we’ll never know.

    The Macaca moment probably wouldn’t have been possible before the internet, but campaigns have been following their opponents with video long before two guys registered youtube.com. Certainly the expectation game of why you follow someone has probably changed.

    I guess one of these days we’ll have a campaign that doesn’t have the resources to go the traditional route and they will come up big and surprise some people. However, good luck talking a campaign that does have the resources (even limited) into staying away from the traditional information avenues.

    Anyway, I think the web 2.0 stuff is great in this campaign. Keep it up everyone!

  15. Rusty says:

    Holly,
    You seem nice and, like, reasonable. There’s a disconnect in my brain, because most of the people I encounter who support Whitehead don’t project that (not saying there aren’t other nice, reasonable people who support him, just saying that living outside the district I don’t encounter them much).

    In general terms I don’t disagree with you and other people that knocking on doors and personal contact is going to be more effective than YouTube videos or blog posts. That’s also true about phone calls, mailers, TV commercials, newspaper articles and all other media. I don’t think anybody making these videos has grandiose delusions about them swaying massive blocks of voters.

    Then again, a recent report by the Kelsey Group says 59 percent of people who are online watch Internet video. Considering they don’t cost more than a few hours of someone’s time to make, if it gets some buzz going that either sways a few dozen voters or disgusts them enough to sit the election out, then hey, why not? It’s not like I’d have time to go up there and knock on doors for a candidate anyway, so there’s no opportunity cost.

  16. SpaceyG says:

    There is also a study, I don’t think I’m making this up, that shows that people engaged online are also highly likely to be also be voters, compared to those not online. I’ll have to scrounge around for that one…

  17. Holly says:

    Hey, Rusty!

    Thanks, I appreciate that. There are some nice Republicans out there if you look really, really hard, ha ha.

    I might look at things perhaps a little differently than the average campaign worker. I’ve worked as a publicity director before, so I’m used to communications and dealing with media – both new and old. Therefore, I understand that there is great value in new media, and it will grow as a forum for which ideas can be shared.

    That said, I’m still not convinced anything beats personal contact. I don’t think that marketing in any other form can ever surpass the value of a word-of-mouth recommendation from a friend or neighbor.

    Now, Spacey suggests that a campaign could conceivably be run with virtually no grassroots. I disagree, and here’s why.

    Yes, YouTube is inexpensive. If you have a Mac, like I do, you can make podcasts and videos in no time at all. Those are great. That said, you almost have to have a central distribution location for them so users can find them, i.e., a web site, which has to be paid for. (I’d argue that I’d rather have a web site than a television commercial in many respects, given that it’s easy to refresh content and distribute important updates readily. Web sites do cost money, but they’re well worth the expense.)

    However, I’m going to point out that television and radio ads are not grassroots. Effective? Yes, of course, or why would candidates pay for them? But any commercial – even with Larry Munson in it – isn’t going to mean as much to Millie Lou Doe as a telephone call from her daughter, Jane, who supports candidate X. Suppose Jane offers to take Millie Lou to the polls? Well, then you’re almost assured that vote. And how about when Millie Lou sees her friend from Sunday School at the grocery store, and tells her that she’s just been to vote, thereby reminding the friend that she needs to do the same?

    Internet media cannot ensure votes like personal contact. The smallest of campaigns are usually totally run on grassroots. Minus signs in yards, I have yet to see a successful candidate for commission who didn’t have postcards or enlist volunteers to go door to door.

    If there ever is a candidate who successfully runs for office without those techniques, y’all let me know, and I’ll be the first to say I was wrong. But until then, I’m going to maintain that grassroots campaigning is essential to successful campaigns.

  18. SpaceyG says:

    In other words, ChrisIsHardSomething, I’m trying to be optimistic about online useage and voting, as if that’s the case, it really opens up an AFFORDABLE political process to a lot more people. For smaller campaigns that is. Of course you still have to engage traditional media to win county dog catcher nowadays, but wouldn’t it be great to see that model change even a little?

  19. griftdrift says:

    I agree with you Holly. I don’t see New/Social media really greasing the GOTV. Yet.

    By the way, if you really want to see insane, head down to Florida. In Tallahassee, they run tv ads for school board positions.

  20. Holly says:

    My mom – poor lady’s been mentioned so often here recently – is from Daytona Beach, and every time I’m down there, I swear there’s some sort of campaign ad running on television (which is once or twice a year). It’s insanity. How do they afford elections? I do not understand.

  21. Rusty says:

    Holly,
    Did I miss the part where SpaceyG said a campaign could be run online w/o grassroots? I don’t recall reading it here. Different thread perhaps?

  22. Holly says:

    Rusty,

    Nah, I think I read that into the Bill and Ben comments and then Spacey’s response. I thought it’s what she meant. Spacey, am I wrong?

    Y’all are free to correct me when my train goes off the track. 🙂

  23. Bill Simon says:

    Spacey,

    I live in Marietta. Which, while being close enough to Atlanta, my regular (read, “revenue-producing”) occupation demands that I should not be spending time on activities outside the office during work hours unless they have a snowball’s chance of generating revenue for me.

  24. bowersville says:

    This is a special election more kin to a Louisiana free for all than any election held in the 10th in my memory. In other words no primary, no general, only a runoff if needed.

    Conventional/traditional wisdom already holds that the district is Republican 60/40% give or take a few points. So the true measure of the “new media” is not whether Marlow is in a runoff, but whether Marlow wins the district in a runoff according to CW.

    Conventional/traditional wisdom also holds that if a runoff is needed, Marlow should be in it. Consider, Marlow has the backing of the majority of the Democratic county chairs, a sense of need by the Democrats to unite behind 1 candidate. If that happens, how many will vote for Marlow? What maybe 80% of the Democratic voters or 32%, which is runoff numbers if enough D voters turn out.

    Don’t get so enthralled about new media that you back yourself into a corner. Turnout will be low, lower and lowest. Marlow may not even reach a runoff. There may have been enthusiasm at the J/J dinner and on the recent national successes, but the Democratic enthusiasm is not in the 10th that I’ve noticed. If it was, Jamieson or Powell, long time successful D state Reps would have sought the 10th.

    So let me caution, any claim made for a victory by “new media” if Marlow gets in the runoff will be viewed by the conventional/traditional crowd as pulling conclusions out of your rear unless you have the exit polling data to back it up.

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