Barack Obama ran one of the best campaigns I’ve seen in my lifetime. Granted, I’m only 41, but his campaign took advantage of the Internet in a way that very few are doing so far in any field. And journalists should learn from him.
Obama’s campaign used nearly every tool the Internet has to offer and did it in a way that made him hip and tech savvy – two things that are very attractive to voters age 18-45. How can journalists learn from this?
First, use the tools. There are tons of FREE tools out there that can make journalism more relevant to people. Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, etc. are powerful tools that connect communities and allow them to share content.
Second, microfinance is the wave of the future. Obama did not depend on old school finance to fund his campaign. He used the net to create thousands, maybe millions of smaller donors. That’s how you pay for journalism. Microcontributions or even micro ad payments. But that means reaching lots of viewers. It can be done.
Third, embrace the technology. The President Elect loves his blackberry. I love the fact that he is tech savvy. We need that and journalists do too. Journalists have been slow to learning to love the web. Journalism on the net will be different. The big corporate journalism is ending. A new smaller, niche-expert based journalism is beginning. Journalists can’t be one song players. They must be able to create video, audio, text, photos, graphics and more – plus put it on the web in a creative package. And still make printed products too!
Fourth, get over it. Stop the whining. Obama had the deck stacked against him 18 months ago. A candidate with name recognition (Clinton), inexperience, and his issues weren’t gaining much traction. But he didn’t quit. Just because the old model is dead, does not mean journalism is dead. On the internet, we can do it all. The entry level is low. You can learn most journalism skills needed for the net in a few days. The basics are easy, if you are willing to learn. Three years ago, I started teaching web design. In order to become certified in my state, I had to pass a test. I had to learn HTML. I did it in a couple of days from a web site. I’m learning CSS now. It’s not that hard. Don’t try to learn it all in a day, but learn something new all the time.
Fifth, self promote and rebrand. Obama created the Obama brand. It didn’t exist before, he built it. The old brands lost trust. They broke the bond with the people by allowing too many Stephen Glasses and Memogate scandals. The old ethical standards of journalism were replaced by profit motive. The corporate culture had taken over. It’s time for journalists to rebuild journalism from the ground up and the net has made that possible. We should be rejoicing, not grousing.
The model for success in the 21st Century is about to live in the White House. We just need to emulate that model.