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Meet ‘N Tweet: Capitol Hill’s New Press Conference

By Michael Wm. Schick

For the most part, politicians like cameras (unless, of course, they are in trouble). But assuming they are not, they really do like to be in the spotlight. They come alive when the lights turn on and the cameras flash and roll.

As a former press spokesman for a US Senator, I repeatedly witnessed this phenomenon, especially on State of the Union night. One of my jobs was to escort my boss through the shining sea of network and cable camera crews set up in Statuary Hall right outside the House floor, making sure he took full advantage of the interview opportunities surrounding him.

There is something strangely stimulating about being in front of a camera. It’s like an injection of adrenaline.  But during a recent day on Capitol Hill, I witnessed the emergence of a new media stimulant: Twitter. I spent the day shepherding 10 of America’s top mom bloggers to meetings with Members of Congress and their staffs. During the meetings, the bloggers hardly looked at the guest speakers, not because they were rudely checking their emails or texting their friends, but because they were busy transmitting what they were hearing on their smartphones or iPads, tweeting at the speed of light. Some took Twitpics and posted them immediately; some used digital cameras, and then transferred the images from the camera’s memory card to their iPads.

This “Meet ‘N Tweet” event was as real time a “press conference” or “satellite media tour” as any I’ve ever seen. And the Congressmen and staff were eating it up because they knew that somewhere, hundreds of thousands of other moms throughout America were reading their sound bites. Knowing they were being quoted on Twitter motivated them to say something profound and quotable.

I’m not saying Twitter, Facebook, or blogs will replace traditional reporters. But I am saying that the folks on Capitol Hill are taking these tools and the people who use them just as seriously. And that’s great news for participatory democracy. Hooray for the brave new digital world of citizen journalism!

Cross-posted from Adfero.com

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