This story was written by Carl Jaeger, Badger Herald
ABC News and the popular social networking site Facebook announced a partnership Monday in providing coverage of the 2008 presidential election.
According to ABC News, the partnership will include up-to-date news on each candidate's campaign trail as well as interactive forums, discussion boards and blogs.
"We thought it would be a great opportunity for us to make available to the people already having the ongoing discussion and debate on Facebook the full range of ABC News political reporting," ABC News President David Weston said in a release.
In addition to adding the U.S. News application, Facebook users will be able to "friend" ABC News reporters who will be following election events. The reporters will provide updated information on blogs, upload photographs and behind-the-scenes election footage.
"The goal is to extend the debate from being a one-hour session that happens on television to a dialogue that can take place before, after and now during the debate between voters," said Facebook vice president of business development Dan Rose. "We're all about providing technology platforms to enable and facilitate information flow and dialogue."
As of Monday night, the U.S. News Facebook application had 4,591 active users. Facebook currently has more then 53 million users in 55,000 networks worldwide - and according to the site, the user demographic group that is growing the most is those over 25.
The partnership between ABC News and Facebook comes on the heels of another partnership between CNN and YouTube, which are jointly hosting 2008 presidential election debates that include questions submitted electronically by the public. The Democratic CNN YouTube debate took place July 23 and the Republican debate is scheduled to take place Wednesday.
UW political science professor Donald Downs said the various forms of new media "are a reality, and it makes sense for politicians to take advantage of them."
"If you don't, your opponents will, so it's kind of like an arms race with the media," Downs said.
Downs added through Facebook, and other forms of new media, political information is getting more pervasive, but was unsure of the media's effectiveness.
"I think that the [information] is indeed getting out to people who wouldn't normally see it, [but] whether this means that these people will actually vote or get involved is another story," Downs said. "I personally think that if this is their first, or only exposure, then these are not the types of people who would vote, in any event. But if you do well in this context, it is free advertising, and could create a buzz among social groups."
Downs also said politicians should be careful not to "pander young people" on Facebook, as it could potentially effect the perception of the candidate from older generations.
"The benefits would be reaching a broader audience," Downs said. "The downside is that older people can look ridiculous trying to appear 'cool.' A good politician can walk this line - a bad politician will stumble."
Individuals who want to add the application can do so by searching "U.S. News" on Facebook.com.
© 2007 Badger Herald via U-WIRE