Monday, November 10, 2008

Jenn's and Carly's Research Proposal on New Media and Election 08

This Presidential election has been like no other with the presence and importance of the Internet. Web 2.0 has created an elaborate tapestry that has woven its way through the minds of millions of Americans and the way they formed their opinion on this year's candidates. With the capacity to reach millions, youtube, facebook, and blogs have changed the game for the race to the white house. Our study sharpens the lens on this "new media" and how it shaped this historic election.
Our study will focus on the effects and effectiveness of new media. That is, the consequences of web 2.0, intended or not and the success it has had with it's intended objectives, such as attracting large audiences and influencing the opinions and behaviors of the public. We will interpret the effects and effectiveness of new media through three main avenues of popularity, youtube, facebook, and blogs.
Our research questions for this study include:
• What were the positive and negative effects of new media on the presidential candidates of 2008?
• Which presidential campaign was most effective in their use of new media?
• What area of web 2.0-facebook, youtube, or blogs, has had the greatest influence on the public, and why?
Our study is significantly relevant because this is the first election where anyone and everyone have been given the opportunity to stand on a virtual soapbox to spout their political ideals and contribute to the overall conversation. New media is rising in popularity extremely fast, youtube, facebook, and (a search engine for blogs) are all within the top ten for the list of the top 500 sites on the web ( The public is contributing to these sites in record numbers; 70% of Americans logged into the Internet and 20% users worldwide ( the reach is only continuing to expand as technology becomes more accessible. YouTube, for example, became more accessible through the launch of YouTube Mobile available through a web interface at And since last summer, the public has been able to connect to YouTube on Apple TV and on the iPhone via Wi-Fi. All of these outlets are increasing traffic and content as the audience grows.
YouTube is a video sharing website that holds the capability for users to upload and share millions of their favorite videos, original and not. Founded on February 15th 2005 by Steve Chen, Chad Hurley and Jawed Karim, YouTube has only grown from there. An article in the “Wall Street Journal,” written by Lee Gomes in August 2006, stated that YouTube had more or less than 5.1 million videos at that time. In the state of South Carolina that is about one video posted per person. A month later, Gomes says that the number of videos posted had grown to 6.1 million, which is at least a 20% increase. As of April 9th, 2008, a YouTube search returned about 83.4 million videos and 3.75 million user created channels and YouTube continues to become one of the most popular social networking sites out there.
The social Impact of YouTube has been greater than any of the wizards behind the curtain could have ever imagined. There have been countless videos that have gained popularity for them and for their creators solely through posting to YouTube. A good example of this would be the Obama Girl video that was posted back in June 2007. With the success of her first video, “I’ve Got A Crush On Obama”, the notorious Obama Girl formed her own YouTube Channel “” that has had over four million channel views and over 82,000 channel subscribers. Although YouTube was just a way for her to break into the media world, causing a sensation in the news media getting plays on CNN and write-ups in Newsweek. Because of the success of the Obama Girl’s videos and her channel, she has been able to bring many of her original humorous and satirical political videos to the public by streaming them on this online network.
This past 2008 U.S. Presidential Election used YouTube as a method of advertisement to get out their candidates names and faces to the public. The people had direct access to information about their candidates via YouTube such as their statements, previous campaign speeches and interviews. During the primaries, Hilary Clinton used YouTube as a more creative outlet to interact with her supporters by coming up with a parody of the season finale of “The Sopranos” with her and her husband former President Bill Clinton. This video received millions of viewers on YouTube and also was shown on news channels all around the country putting her name out there and connecting her to the more human quality of humor. ( Creating this video as a method to connect her supporters with her campaign, trying to pick her campaign song, she made herself more available and more down to earth rather than just a US Presidential candidate.
Blogs, which was coined by Peter Merholz, began gaining popularity in early 2000. Blogs were seen as virtual diaries, with online entries maintained by the creator of the blog. Since then, we have seen the blogsphere reach popularity that even the experts couldn’t imagine. Blogs receive four times the number of visits compared to traditional news (Time). There are several categories of blogs, personal blogs, corporate blogs, media institution blogs, etc. With our study, we will focus on mainstream political blogs that have the greatest amount of online traffic. These blogs include, Huffington, which has 2,777,280 compete monthly visitors, that has 2,187,547 compete monthy vistors, and with 1,836,898 compete monthly visitors. We will also look at Obama’s and McCain’s blogs on their individual campaign websites.
Facebook, which was launched in 2004 by Harvard dropout Mark Zuckerberg is a social networking website that allows free-access to connect with others. Originally created for college students, facebook is now open to the public, as users create their own profiles and contribute to their friend’s profiles by wall posts. In the summer of 2007, facebook was attracting 26.6 million monthly visitors, as the visitors continue to spend more time on the site with an average of 186 minutes per month (Washington Post). With the intensity of this year’s election users of facebook become extremely more vocal in their support for the candidates. Many donated their facebook status to their candidate, with statuses that read as follows, “Kate Kidd has donated her status to remind everyone to vote for Barack Obama today. Donate your status:” By users donating their status, a record was set of the largest online rally in history with a total of 1,745,754 people and 4,896,031 status messages set. Specifically, 70 percent of users who participated donated their status to Obama while 21 percent donated their status for McCain. After being categorized as an apathetic generation, the medium of facebook was largely instrumental in getting the youth vote off of the sidelines and onto the main stage of the political platform.
We will conduct our study through a content analysis of facebook, youtube, and blogs. We will look at each of these forums individually. With facebook we will look at political stances taken through notes, statuses, and profiles. With youtube we will concentrate on viral videos, which videos have received the most hits, links, and comments. Lastly, with blogs, we will focus on the blogs that receive the most traffic and why. In addition to our content analysis, we will also conduct a survey through facebook to sample the popularity of new media.
Our sample will be a short with an open-ended format. A sample of it is as
• Did you use facebook, blogs, or YouTube to support your candidate? If so, how, and what was your favorite site? Did you donate your status, make blog posts, or create online videos, etc…?
• Why or why not did you support your candidate through these outlets?
• If you did support a candidate via facebook, blogs, or YouTube, do you think your contribution influenced other users opinions?
With this survey and the extensive content analysis, our study will be a well-rounded investigation of the effects and effectiveness of new media.

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