Can the digital outlets used during presidential elections qualify as direct sources of news? Presidential candidates’ use of technology in the 2016 election has altered conventional political reporting and the source of where the public receives their news. A recent report from Pew Research Center explores Trump and Clinton’s use of social media and campaign websites as means of communicating with and educating the general public.
In the 2016 election, campaign websites and social media accounts host news articles and original content. This election cycle differs in that the presence of social media has drawn the public towards using these outlets as a main source of information. The Pew report finds that on social media, 78% of Trump’s links are to news stories, while 80% of Clinton’s send people to her campaign pages. Clinton’s website produces mostly original in-house news content while Trump’s refers more to outside news articles. Social media is an extremely popular tool for the public to use as a means of receiving news. According to Pew, 44% of the U.S. population receives their news from Facebook. While social media does not serve to replace journalists, it has changed the way the public receives and digests information.
In this election, the candidates’ campaign websites’ content and purpose have evolved from past elections. They both list less content and do not have a place for citizen comments. This has made the campaign websites more informational, rather than discussion-based. With the presence of social media overcasting the 2016 presidential election, candidates have the opportunity to engage the general public through direct outlets. Pew Research Center compares Trump’s high level of public engagement on social media to Clinton’s lower amount of direct involvement with the public. 78% of Trump’s retweets were from the public, while Clinton has not retweeted a member of the public yet.
During this presidential election, social media has been one of the most widely used outlets for receiving political information. As this social media era continues to expand, we must remember to also turn toward traditional news to receive balanced information. Campaign sites and social media accounts should not serve as a replacement for political journalism, and should instead assist in news distribution.