Monday, July 1, 2013

Over, Under, Through*: Social Media Steps Over Mainstream Media in Protest Coverage

The past few weeks have brought so many wonderful examples of the power of social media to connect, share and transform the political landscape in profoundly exciting ways. Like many people, I've been glued to Twitter following the battle for reproductive rights in Texas. Despite the huge groundswell of these protests, with up 200, 000 people watching livestream coverage of Sen. Wendy Davis' filibuster late into the night, the mainstream media was nowhere to be seen, even as many people were mentioning the Twitter handles of news outlets directly and asking for coverage. 

Anyone who has been paying attention to media shifts isn't surprised. For several years, I have been getting my news directly from Twitter. With careful curation of your follow list (and this step is important), you can quickly amass a timeline that is packed with timely and accurate information about what is happening in your neighborhood, town, country or on the other side of the world. With this kind of information at your fingertips, there is simply no reason to look at a major news site anymore, where the information is often an hours or days-old stale rehash of AP or Reuters, or even worse, full of errors. The ongoing decimation of newsrooms across the country doesn't bode well for any improvement on this front.

So as events unfold in Texas, Ohio or anywhere in the world, I'll be checking Twitter. No need to wait around for mainstream media to report what is happening. The people on the ground are on it. 

*Tip of the hat to Tiny Fey, who cited this Sesame Street teaching phrase when addressing how she deals with workplace sexism in her insightful and hilarious memoir Bossypants. Applies nicely to barriers of all kinds!

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