FOR years and years anoraks across the land have been predicting the end of mainstream journalism; when a cast of thousands of citizen journalists (a.k.a. anoraks) will tell the tales that the newspapers and broadcast media have neither the time nor the inclination to cover.
Like all the ‘truths’ told in Norn Iron, it is only half the truth and less than a quarter of the facts.
Blogs, comment boards, Twitter, Facebook and every other half popular social media outlet has been pouring from the keyboards of frustrated so-called experts with increasing fervour and vitriol since the Obama election was proclaimed by those who ran out of hyperbole as the web2.0 election.
While the Westminster election acted as the warm-up here, this time Norn Iron has been deluged by every sort of commentator making the cross-over between social and mainstream media as the Assembly elections draw ever closer – not to mention the local government polls and AV referendum.
While the journey leaders of Mark Devenport at the BBC and Mick Fealty and his cohorts on Slugger O’Toole have been blogging for years, we have now a raft of Tweet Ups, UTV specials, Nolan Show and Talkback Twitter comments, party tweet ups and a clamour to integrate and populate the debate.
Hurrah! The electorate can get involved, cheer on the policies they want and spout forth with ranks of amateurs raising their voices.
Twitter feeds signed up to by politicos that were silent for months have suddenly come alive, Facebook statuses are now updated regularly, and we’ve even had the opportunity to read about candidates experiences out canvassing.
Which all bodes well one would think. But we have a dark nagging fear, as we lie awake at night... We fear that a lot of the political aspect of social media here is of interest to us anoraks, while the rest of the country use social media to, well to be social!
The true test will come in terms of turn-out. Did the extra effort on the web really engage the electorate? We hope so, but in the meantime there are a few comments we need to post...anoraks of the world unite: after all, the geeks will inherit the earth.