The big switch

The election results of any large democracy typically unfolds over the course of a day or night. It is unrealistic to expect people to drop everything they do and sit before a TV to watch the see-saw political battle, however gripping it may be. Nor will they wait till the next morning to read what the wise journalists will write. They instead prefer to track the developments through multiple devices, which they use in their routine life. During the US elections, Huffpost asked its readers, on its Facebook page, to list the ‘screens’ they were using to follow the poll results. The most popular response: laptop, smartphone and TV. This trend takes away the monopoly of the traditional media to arbitrate news and forces social media to the centre stage. Readers are no longer content just getting their updates from experts. They want to play the game themselves. If TV made them apolitical, internet is here to make them participate. With this, experts begin to recede.

Media organisations grasped the mood of their readers. They produced text, images, social media posts, videos, animations and different kinds of interactive features. Their reporting was no longer limited to their correspondents. They provided ample space to what was being played out on the social media, on blogs and other media outlets. Mass media ceased to be a centrally controlled party machinery. Media has been opening up for sometime now. What was new in their coverage of the US polls was in the way they stepped up to engage readers through the new tools: online videos, tweets and live blogs streamed without a break from many newspapers desperate to seize the new normal.

CNet quoted internet guru Marc Andreesson on the subject. The 1960 US poll saw TV coming of age, a development that helped Kennedy thrash Nixon. The present trend will snowball and give internet the power to move polls by 2024 or earlier. On November 6, 31 million election-related tweets were passed around, which peaked during Obama’s acceptance speech, when 874,560 tweets were sent in the span of 60 seconds.

A photo Obama posted while claiming victory in the US presidential race has been re-tweeted nearly 700,000 times. More than 3.23 million people had liked the image on Facebook and over 400,000 had shared it by November 7. The momentum for the rise of internet as the primary mass media channel is already exists. It just needs to accelerate.

DH

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(Contributed by Jason Praful)

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(Contributed by Janmejay S Purohit)

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