Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the connection between the democratic environment of the online world in terms of the blogsphere and the podcast community and what the implication is for US politics. Certainly, new tools such as podcasts, blogs, and RSS feeds would allow any political office, campaign, and related organizations to directly reach out to their constituents and speak directly and candidly about any number of topics and positions.
Think about it – in an environment where Americans are changing their media consumption habits – the evening network news is no longer the focal point for informing Americans – nor is the New York Times. Instead, citizens are turning to new venues including blogs, podcasts, and custom media aggregators such as My Yahoo, My AOL, Google Base all of which are powered by RSS feeds. With that in mind, it would behoove local, regional, and national candidates and political figures around the country to speak directly to Americans through the power of these new tools. Further, with the advent of these types of outreach strategies candidates and campaigns are no longer forced to try and disseminate their message through traditional venues and gatekeepers such as cable news commentators, columnists, and radio hosts. These tools allow candidates to speak directly to the electorate and deliver their message in a candid, direct, and effective mechanism that fits into our new culture of information that fits in our custom news-cycle where the television newscast has been replaced with personalized content that we consume via our Laptops, PDAs, and iPods.
Well, interestingly enough, I suppose I am not the only one with this line of thought, as earlier today I found a report recently released by The Bivings Group. The report, "The Internet’s Role in Political Campaigns" (Link to a PDF of the Report) takes an extensive look at how candidates in 2006 are using the internet to communicate. Surprisingly, the report found that a mere 23% of this years campaigns are blogging and only 5% are podcasting. That’s mind-boggling and quite possibly detrimental to a campaign’s success; especially in terms of reaching younger voters, which was a major crux of the last campaign cycle.
In light of this report and considering todays ever-competitive environment for disseminating news & views, I would implore candidates in 2006 to not overlook the power of Web 2.0 to reach millions of Americans.