Testing Civic Engagement During a Federal Election
28 August 2012 at 3:43 pm
The use of social media during the upcoming Federal Election will be used to gauge the capacity of new media to increase civic engagement and enhance political journalism.
The initiative will be driven by the University of Melbourne’s Centre for Advanced Journalism (CAJ) in partnership with Fairfax Media and social media group Our Say.
The Citizens’ Agenda project will involve pre-election town hall meetings and community forums in key seats. Candidates will be asked questions selected – or ‘crowdsourced’ – by users of OurSay’s website and social media channels.
The questions are expected to not be simply ‘who will you vote for?’ but rather ‘what do you want the election to be about?’
Researchers believe this will be the world’s first social media "intervention", exploring the potential for media organisations to pursue a “citizens’ agenda” to influence both political reporting and the conduct of an election campaign.
Director of the Centre for Advanced Journalism, Dr Margaret Simons said the project should answer questions that have become increasingly urgent for both journalists and politicians.
“There is a great deal of discussion about the potential positive impact of social media on democracy and journalism,” she said.
“But few pieces of research that actually measure whether it can live up to its promise.”
“We hope to provide an alternative agenda for both politicians and journalists, while increasing citizens’ interest and involvement in the larger political contest.”
Managing Editor of Fairfax Media (National), Mark Baker said the media company was participating in the project because of its potential to explain how social media can invigorate political reporting and journalists’ engagement.
“The more engaged we are the better the outcomes for society, community and country,” he said.