When pundits and talking heads speak of the 2008 presidential election it’s often preceded by a certain word — a word that may have been a little hastily applied and yet, one that most everyone seems to agree is appropriate: Historic.
There are lots of reasons why that particular election might be considered so, but not least of which is the tremendous role played by today’s highly mobile, wireless “cloud”-based technology. That election was covered as much by mobile phones as it was TV cameras. It was documented by Instagram photos as much as by TIME magazine covers. The twitterverse (for good or ill) was filled with tweets that weighed in alongside editorial endorsements and Facebook was fully engulfed in a conflagration of flame wars.
New media, new technology and social networking played an immense role in that election and it was big news. News organizations spoke, wrote (and often enough bemoaned) of the role those technologies played.
But if there’s anything notable along that front this time around it’s that the presence of social media and Internet coverage isn’t — especially notable that is. Oh, of course it’s still there — more than ever in fact. But now we’re accustomed to it.
Mobile phone coverage has helped document outrages and heroics alike as Libya exploded in — and continues to writhe with — violence. Not so long ago, social media helped (again, good or ill) revolution across the Arab world.
As I write this, Wednesday night’s debate has yet to begin — but very soon now thousands (if not millions) of people across the country will prepare to watch, live — and online — as President Barack Obama and GOP hopeful and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney go toe-to-toe. The Tyler Morning Telegraph’s own Roy Maynard and Adam Russell covered the debate just the same way — live and online. Maybe you caught it. Pretty cool, huh?
That’s just one more way advances in technology are helping shape coverage, just as they are shaping policy decisions, international affairs and conflicts and, in short, all of our lives. As I’ve said before, it’s an exciting time to be a nerd. And yet, one needn’t be especially nerdy to use these modern tools that are just a mouse click, a button push or (for those with smart phones) a finger swipe away — just as the technology to move more and more of our lives online has improved and become more and more prevalent, it’s also become ever easier to use.
And while we’re all free to disagree over whether we’re better off than we were four years ago, there’s no denying that we are, at the least, more connected.