A New York Times journalist said social media has revolutionized the way we communicate and interact with government. Government officials can now communicate directly with those they represent through Facebook and Twitter.
For government leaders social media is like a “round the clock press conference simultaneously informing the public and their staff” said New York Times journalist Brian Stelter. Officials can stay connected and informed on the views and opinions of constituents and receive instant feedback. This two way communication allows the public to bypass media and ask questions directly to politicians and receive answers immediately.
Direct communication through social media is vital in local government settings, said Stelter. He added that “social media acts as a megaphone in emergency situations.” During hurricane Sandy local leaders used social media to stay connected and inform those in the area. Stelter cited an example from hurricane Sandy. When the power went out a woman used social media to contact her local politician and ask when the power would be up and running again. Her politician said he honestly didn’t know, but that she was welcome to come to his home and warm up and charge her phone. This direct communication was immediate and showed that the government was listening to their constituents in a time of need.
The more involved and interactive the public is on social media sites the more government leaders will listen. Stelter predicted that as social media continues to expand and grow more and more people will contact politicians and make their voices heard. This will continue to connect politicians directly to public opinion and help officials represent constituents more effectively.