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Elections

Uses of Political Blogging in the 2010 Swedish Election

Krems.
The next speaker at CeDEM 2011 is Jakob Svensson, who shifts our attention towards the individual in political participation. He does this against the background of the 2010 Swedish elections, which for the first time used social media in a significant way. Jakob focussed on Nina Larsson, a politician of the conservative Liberal’s Party, who used two blogs during her campaign.

Jakob notes the different forms of rationalities (deliberative, but especially also expressive) which are on display in such uses; beyond this, there is also a more instrumental use of social media to influence election outcomes, of course (at worst, this simply refers to naked political spin). All of this needs to be considered in a wider theoretical context of digital late modernity and networked individualism, of course. The process of individualisation opens up other spheres for participation, too – life politics, for example. Blogs and other social networking sites are sometimes seen as saviours for this, but there are strong critiques of such perspectives, too.

Some More Presentations to Finish the Year

As 2010 draws to a close, its perhaps appropriate that my last couple of conference presentations for the year take a somewhat retrospective nature, summarising and reflecting on the 2010 Australian federal election, with a particular view on what we’ve learned about the state of Australian journalism in general and the role of Twitter in election coverage and debate in particular. I’ll present both those papers at different conferences in Sydney this Friday (26 November):

Slides for both those presentations are below, and I’ll try and add audio later both with audio.

Election 2010: The View from Twitter (InASA 2010)

InASA ‘Double Vision’ 2010

Election 2010: The View from Twitter

Axel Bruns

  • 26 Nov. 2010 – International Australian Studies Association ‘Double Vision’ conference, Sydney

Though it may not have had a substantial effect on the eventual outcome, Twitter was a highly visible component of the 2010 Australian election coverage. During the campaign, the #ausvotes hashtag alone generated over 400,000 tweets. This paper provides an overview of key trends in Twitter-based discussion of the Australian election.

#ausvotes Twitter Activity during the 2010 Australian Election

Hamburg.
My own paper was next at ECREA 2010. Here’s the presentation – and I also recorded the audio for it, and will add it as soon as I can which is now attached to the slides. As it turned out, one of the other presenters in the session also broadcast the whole event to Justin.tvso go there to see it all in action (my presentation starts around 52 minutes in, and you can also see the other papers on our panel)…

Mainstream Media Use of Amateur Footage during the Iran Election Aftermath

Hamburg.
The next speaker in this ECREA 2010 session is Mervi Pantti, whose interest is in the role of amateur images in the Iran election crisis. This was a key moment for using citizen-created content in mainstream news coverage, and such images became a focal point for the public response to the election aftermath. Such images were also very difficult to verify, however, raising questions for the journalistic process. Mervi examined the coverage of these protests by CNN, BBC One, and the Finnish broadcaster YLE.

Citizen-provided images are used to support the journalistic mediator’s claims about the truth of the event; they are valued as evidence of the events, and provide immediacy and a heightened reality effect. At the same time, they also present a risk to the journalist’s trustworthiness, especially if there is confusion about the origin of these images. Additionally, there are questions of responsibility here – some of the images show scenes which journalists themselves would not have covered or shown, for ethical reasons; amateur footage of violence, for example, can be used as an excuse from standard journalistic ethics. Transparency is the new strategic ritual in journalistic justifications in this context; it serves as a means of letting the audience know where these images come from.

Key Events in Australian (Micro-)Blogging during 2010 (ECREA 2010)

ECREA 2010

Key Events in Australian (Micro-)Blogging during 2010

Axel Bruns, Jean Burgess, Thomas Nicolai, and Lars Kirchhoff

  • 15 Oct. 2010 – 3rd European Communications Conference (ECREA 2010)

(This was the original abstract, but our coverage was overtaken by political events...)

News Choices in Covering the Iranian Election

Hamburg.
The next speaker at ECREA 2010 is Max Hänska-Ahy, whose interest is in the use of Twitter and satellite TV in the recent Iranian election and its aftermath. The outcome of the election was highly disputed, of course, with widespread protests; domestic media and other channels of communication were shut down or disrupted by the government. External media sources (BBC World News, CNN, etc.) remained important sources of information during this time, but their satellite channels, too, were disrupted.

Online Campaigning by the Obama Campaign

Hamburg.
The final speaker in this ECREA 2010 session is Sabine Baumann, whose interest is in online grassroots campaigning especially in the past US presidential election. There, of course, to win a candidate not only needs votes, but campaign funding in the first place, and the Obama campaign was exceptionally successful in attracting campaign contributions (collecting twice as much money as John McCain, mainly from small donations under US$200).

Spending figures are also interesting in this regard – McCain spent some US$4.6m on Internet campaigning, Obama spent a whopping US$24m. The Obama campaign Website also prominently displayed its donation and online merchandise functionality, of course; the online store was hugely successful, in fact (offering campaign clothing and art from notable designers and artists).

Understanding European Online Publics

Bremen.
The next speaker at this ‘Doing Global Media Studies’ pre-conference for ECREA 2010 is Asimina Michailidou, whose interest is in online public opinion formation in the European Union. This is deliberately avoiding an examination of party politics or opinion polls, but rather goes straight to online interaction – in this case, in the context of the EU parliamentary elections in 2009. The focus here was on twelve EU nations as well as a number of pan-European opinion and debate sites.

There are a number of methodological challenges with this – across the three areas of sampling, analysis, and interpretation. The project necessarily proceeds from a mixed-methods design, as it attempts to measure the forms and processes of communication on online platforms and investigate the content and participant community.

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