Following the Sit-In at the House of Representatives: Social Media as the new Democratizing Media
iSchool Associate Professor Jennifer Stromer-Galley and social media researcher offers insight in the unprecedented use of social media during the sit-in at the House of Representatives.
“C-SPAN was a cable-era innovation meant to further democratize the political establishment by letting all Americans with cable access watch the machinations of Congress from the comfort of their living rooms,” said Stromer-Galley. “Yesterday, Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, turned off the C-SPAN cameras when House Democrats staged a sit-in to protest inaction by Congress on gun legislation. Twitter, Facebook and Periscope were put into service by the protesting Congress members and their supporters. This bypassed the control Speaker Ryan exerted–as is within his power as Speaker. But as the Speaker likely discovered, C-SPAN has been surpassed by social media as the new democratizing media.
The control that some members of Congress sought to maintain by limiting visibility and publicity of the sit-in by shutting off the TV cameras can no longer be maintained in the age of social media. Control by a few in power is no longer as easy as it was in the mass media age. Not when so many now can record, live-stream, photograph, like and spread well beyond the typically boundaries of the news-consuming media.
Speaker Ryan’s move to shut off the cameras served to only further give visibility to the protests by members of Congress and catalyzed a movement to push for greater gun rights. His move to control and limit that protest by controlling old media cannot be effectively maintained in the age of social media.”
Jenny Stromer-Galley (PhD, Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania) is has been studying social media since before it was called social media and has published over 40 journal articles, proceedings, and book chapters. Her award-winning book, Presidential Campaigning in the Internet Age (Oxford University Press), provides a history of presidential campaigns as they have adopted and adapted to digital communication technologies.
Dr. Stromer-Galley is available for interviews. Contact J.D. Ross, communications director for the iSchool, at 315.443.3094 or email@example.com