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Social media – saving the world?

February 25, 2011

Social media users are claiming credit for a government U-turn on the sell-off of UK forests.

“Victory! Government to scrap plans to sell our forests,” declared the Facebook page of 38 Degrees on Thursday morning, as hundreds of social media users posted their congratulations on the site in the wake of the government climbdown.

The jubilation was repeated on Twitter, where the saveourforests hashtag managed thousands of tweets.

But how far did social media play the crucial role? It has been credited with uprisings across the world.

Social media is a great way to spread a message and get large numbers of people involved in some small way. But I feel that, for now at least, the political agenda is still very much set by the newspapers. Social media is effective in rallying support and making a subject newsworthy – but political pressure is applied when newspapers take up the cause. Even if ‘taking up the cause’ simply involves reporting the action taken by online users.

Journalists increasingly see twitter as a source of news – that is, they report on what’s trending and what’s being said online.It is a place where people talk, and is a place where journalists can go to find things to write about.

Will the next generation of politicians feel pressure most acutely from traditional media?

How much longer will newspapers be the conduit between ‘public opinion’ (so-called) and political leaders?

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One Comment leave one →
  1. March 8, 2011 3:48 pm

    The value of social media is in the conversation. A few of us grew up to be comfortable writing into the void–but far more grew up to become talkers. We learn more and say more when we’re in conversation.

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