WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Politician Claims Social Media Supersedes Journalists

May 26, 2015

The Columbia Journalism Review reported Georgia Governor Nathan Deal touted his administration's ability to get its word out through social media while bypassing traditional media.  What's more, he made the comment during the Centennial Gala for the Grady College of Journalism at the University of Georgia.

Shop Talk panelist Rich Moreno said it took a lot of chutzpah to make the comment at an event like that. 

Moreno also said it’s part of a pattern of politicians trying to find ways to disseminate their message without answering questions from journalists.  And he said social media is a two-edged sword -- politicians can distribute a message unfiltered but they have no control over it once it’s out there.  He said sometimes things take on a life of their own – not always for the better.

Moreno said there’s nothing wrong with politicians using social media, but it should complement their interactions with traditional media.

Panelist Jasmine Crighton criticized Deal for saying traditional media organizations are preventing him from getting his message to constituents. She said journalists don’t try to prevent politicians from speaking – they’re working to get politicians to speak to them and the public.  She said reporters play a critical role in democracy.

Crighton also said it’s possible Deal doesn’t want to go through fact-checkers (journalists) because they might look into the veracity of his statements.

Panelist Rich Egger said politicians don’t need social media to speak directly to constituents – they can do so through public appearances. He also said politicians who go out of their way to criticize journalists are sometimes trying to direct attention away from their own wrongdoing.