Twitter 2016: How Tweets are Paving the Way to the White House and the Public

Whether or not you’ve been actively paying attention, I’m sure you’ve heard.

Primary results have been pouring in the past few weeks, and tensions have been building as the scope narrows to a select few fighting it out for a seat in the White House.

But how have you heard about Bernie vs. Hillary Tuesday night victories or the latest feud between Trump and Cruz (and Mrs. Cruz?) is changing from years before. With journalism transforming and news habits changing into something more than just a 6 o’clock sit-down, information is accessible at the snap of your fingers, anywhere at anytime. Journalism is being disrupted not only by candidates, but also by social media.

Trump isn’t running the election, but neither is Bernie.

The 2016 Race to the White House is being controlled by Twitter.

Unlike any election before, this political brawl has been managed mostly via social media.
George W. Bush was big on the phone-push. Obama’s posters covered cities across the
nation, but today we see a major takeover on sites like
Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook (sometimes even Vine).


Now I would dare to say that the rise of Twitter is a more recent affair, but as of 2012, Obama had over 16 million followers and had sent nearly 5,000 tweets. Let’s get a look at today’s presidential hopefuls:


Updated numbers show similar following, with Donald Trump far ahead and John Kasich eerily behind, but nonetheless Americans are taking notice of Twitter activity for announcements and victories. But how far is their reach, despite the numbers displayed at the top of their feed?

The Pew Research Center published a new study in August of 2015 after surveying a sample of the American public about their Twitter use:



The Pew Research simply goes to show that a large sum of the American public are likely to be receiving their news from Twitter, among other mediums.

But how is Twitter transforming?

Without a doubt this campaign, twitter has been the social media bread winner when it came to sharing news, original content, or outright snide comments. While Instagram has jumped to be increasingly popular over Facebook, and Twitter has remained an unapologetically free platform, candidates have taken a turn for…maybe their true selves?

Recorded in August of 2015, Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton went at it about education costs and reform:

bush graphic

jeb-hillary-hed-2015giphy (1)

Major clapback? I’d say so!

Personally speaking, I’d say it’s more than just an uprising in Twitter usage that’s making these kinds of remarks…acceptable, but maybe that’s just me.

In more recent months, we’ve seen more follower interaction, which I believe is driving the public away from the “imminent death of Twitter” that some might say is quickly approaching. Twitter, while not always guaranteeing a reply, does show a public record of your thoughts, feelings, opinions, and questions. This election, candidates have taken a turn to apparently really care about the American people, thus interacting with them on a semi-shallow platform.

With thousands upon thousands of tweets pouring into these candidates’ notifications every second, it can be hard to keep track of replying, I’m sure. But outspoken GOP candidate, Donald Trump, has taken to Twitter full force, without any political correctness as he so delightfully declares:




And finally- why is Twitter the future?

“As the 2012 elections show, social media is no longer the “exciting new frontier” for political campaigning. Social media is a normal and central form of communications with distinctly different properties than traditional mass media approaches. Obama has set the bar for future campaigns but social media and network structures should be given serious attention in the media strategy, whether it’s for politicians, organizations, brands or public service initiatives.”

Well… Dr. Pamela Rutledge sure has a point. Social media isn’t new. It’s not bright, shiny, or all that exciting until someone says something mildly offensive or racy.

But I must ask, how can social media not be new on a daily basis with over 320 million active monthly users world-wide, and roughly 65 million active monthly users in the US? News is changing, whether you hear it from your television as you sit and watch or see it on your phone as you bus to North Campus. The time is now to vamp up what we are already in the midst of- a social media revolution. Harness one of the world’s greatest marketing and outreaching tools is genius, especially during a campaign where we see those with the most followers have the most real life following in the polls.

And finally, we see the reach of social media globally, as candidates from other countries harness the media prowess inside. Country leaders in Brazil and Canada have found themselves using social media, similarly to how US presidential candidate use them- to communicate, criticize, and self-promote.

Social Media Stats from recent Prime Minister election in Canada

“This presidential cycle is making clear the value Twitter has as a method of connecting candidates and voters,” says Gillian Branstetter of the Daily Dot. “It’s personal nature creates a perpetual town hall, in which a candidate can shine or crash at any moment. Regardless of whether Twitter can translate that into dollars, the rest of us will reap the rewards—and pay the price.”

Regardless of the rewards of consequences of receiving your news via social media, Twitter is the shorthand, tech talk of the 2016 election- have you joined in?


Shomari Stone- Wolverine in Washington DC

It all started with a follow.

NBC DC reporter- Shomari Stone followed me on Twitter.

I was confused as to why this man with about 50,000 Twitter followers would follow me. A Michigan alum with a renown name. An accomplished man, reporting on real issues. Someone I would consider to be almost famous, well-known, and even better connected, had followed me on Twitter.

barbara-walters-paul-rudd-kiss-gmaThis was especially exciting to me because for the longest time I had wanted to be a journalist, writing about the news, reporting the weather, blissfully drinking coffee in the early-morning hours with Paul Rudd on Good Morning America, but that’s besides the point.


Shomari is a reporter for News 4 in Washington DC, specializing in breaking news coverage of all topics, whether that’s politics, weather, disasters, or other breaking social events/issues. Going on year five with News 4, Stone has quite an impressive resume, from covering hurricanes, high magnitude earthquakes, bombings, shootings, and even an interview with Trayvon Martin’s parents.

But it wasn’t Shomari’s impressive coverage that attracted me to his reporting, but it was his personal brand on different forms of social media that I found absolutely riveting.

Upon coming to college, I was told to make my Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts private, leaving no content up to question by future employers. But I found myself thinking that having a popular Twitter, thriving Instagram, and interesting Facebook would be helpful as someone who is planning on pursuing a career in social media and PR. I wanted my brand and my voice to be known.

And that’s what I really admire about Shomari Stone. His brand is real and evident

His Twitter is un-apologetically  his own. He has an original, yet thoughtful Vine account, photo-booth-holiday-party (25)-Lproviding 6-second videos of news and the happenings of his life. He has a YouTube portfolio of his work, along with a personal website, with all of his professional and personal accomplishments compiled into one place. While his work has earned him two
Emmy nominations, he remains grounded, often interacting with fans and followers on Twitter. His personal brand is evidently genuine to his true self, which is really refreshing when I’ve always assumed journalists on Twitter and other social media platforms to be singularly serious (which I’ve come to find isn’t always the case).

His voice is clear in his energized tweets about his favorite sports teams or the University of Michigan, but he also provides factual, shorthand reports on Twitter with a variety of cool media- videos, photos, etc.

Overall, his election coverage has been fairly unbiased, but quite extensive as he is in DC, IMG_9922where talk of the 2016 Race to the White House is on the minds of so many all the time.

I did attempt to reach out to Shomari on Twitter, but he is a busy man with lots of
messages and work to attend to I’m sure (I’ll be sure to update this post if he replies in a timely manner). But his brand of original yet informed is something that I strive to be, as I break out of my phase of tweeting things like this…


You can follow Shomari on Twitter here to keep updated on his adventures in DC, as well as his continual political coverage.

Drones > iPhones in the 2016 Election

Democratic Candidate For President Bernie Sanders Campaigns In IowaThe smartphone revolution changed politics forever. The easy access to information, while you walk to class, ride the bus, or simply skim your timeline during diner, has changed the way that we give and receive news.

Twitter gives tidbits of breaking news and information. Instagram provides stills of an action-packed world. Facebook is a compilation of it all.

But what kind of innovation technology is driving forward news and media in the 2016 election?

The answer- drones.528e84f6a1a8a24dce3cdf0ce2402638.jpg

Seemingly unimportant to the general public when it comes to reporting news, drones provide an omniscient-like look of activities with pictures and video of live events. Used in
various fields, such as sports, military, and delivery, drones are able to provide a point of view that those on the ground or at home don’t have readily available. In addition to providing exciting POVs, drones are the perfect way to safely receive footage from situations that aren’t necessarily safe.

While new drone technology has caused slight concern for security reasons, the benefits outweigh the risks. Aerial technology has the ability to capture moments in their purest form, giving angles and precision that just aren’t available via iPhone camera or even Nikon’s latest model.

As reported by The Guardian“The Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) announced that it had entered into a new partnership with the cable channel under which CNN will be allowed to explore how drones can be safely used for news photography in populated areas. The federal agency’s administrator, Michael Huerta, told a conference of drone enthusiasts in Atlanta that the initiative would be a way to “help us anticipate and address the needs of the evolving UAS [unmanned aircraft systems] industry”.

This agreement has resulted in fantastic footage of campaign rallies, large crowds, and even other events happening internationally.


Beyond just the need for “that perfect shot”, drones have proven to be an interesting topic of conversation due to their sometimes-risky security endeavors. Any aerial vehicle has been reviewed as risky since 9/11, but the increasingly growing technology has some politicians worried around unlicensed or terrorist acts involving drones.

GOP nominee candidate John Kasich of Ohio says that he supports the use of targeted drone strikes, but believes that drone operations should be moved from CIA to the Pentagon.

On the other hand, Bernie Sanders, Democratic nominee candidate of Vermont, says he supports the limited use of targeted drone strikes, but believes that collateral damage, when it occurs, is detrimental to U.S. interests in the region.

The opinions differ when it comes to political drone endeavors, but the press all says the same- drones are the media of the future.

The Hands of a Hard-Working Student

This year, more than ever, millennials have been a key part of the 2016 Race to the White House. With this audience being targeted, issues that matter to students and young adults are being brought to the table.

-affordable/universal healthcare

-debt forgiveness

-free education

-access to resources

One of the more controversial of these is free education.

Students around the country can’t always afford to obtain a degree, which is sad in a time when a college education is required for jobs almost everywhere. This past week, I spent a week with LS&A sophomore- Anna.

Anna is an independent student, working hard in and outside of the classroom, to make her education worth while. I followed Anna after she got out of work this weekend, when she studied, cleaned her apartment, and did her laundry.

Here’s a glimpse inside the life of a student, where education is creating massive consequences and impending cringe-worthy amounts of debt:



**reenactment of recent text to mother**


Working for the university helps Anna afford her education.
Anna spends her free time hanging out with friends and taking part in Kappa Alpha Pi, one of Michigan’s best pre-law fraternities.
With law school in mind, Anna is trying to save money for LSAT classes and law school applications.
Studying never ends, whether you’re in the library or at home.


Laundry before bed. Sleep is crucial when work starts early.

Anna is such a strong woman and student. When asked about the discussion of free education and student loan forgiveness, Anna says,”Free education would help make a degree achievable for any and everyone. This issue definitely helps determine my vote.”

Thank you Anna, for working hard to striving to create a successful future for yourself.





White House Stats…as of October 2016

O’Malley wasn’t even considered, Sanders stood no chance, and Trump was just beginning his reign of domination over the majority Republican vote. According to this data visualization of everything from candidate’s social media interactions to statistics about registered voters, there are clear indications of who has the best chance of claiming their seat in the Oval Office.

You can view the (very long, but interesting) data visualization here:


Visually pleasing, informative, but honestly too long for my liking- this graphic did it’s job. Taking only about two minutes to read and understand, this data visualization captured everything you might need as you wait for the elevator and stand in line at the dining hall. As mentioned in Nieman’s The end of big (media), this is a piece that expands beyond just print media into multiple medias. Revolutionizing journalism can happen in many ways, but here we see a combination of news, stats, and graphics, all in one easy-to-read platform. I appreciate the time that this must’ve took, and I also love the numbers (what who doesn’t love numbers). It feels reliable, organized, and was easy to skim- even though I didn’t want to skim at all really. This data set looks awesome online, but I’m struggling to figure how it would look in print…my guess is not so hot.

I enjoyed the information in the data visualization (especially in regards to considered candidates’ social media use), but it was pretty long. Sure, you have to use a lot ofgiphy.gif space to include that much information, but I could’ve gone with a separate piece for voter statistics, a separate piece for social media engagement, a separate piece for people to fawn over Hillary Clinton. While I do think that I would rather browse this than a whole article from MSNBC or CNN, the length had me a little bored and asking “When does it end?” and “Ben Carson was actually considered as a suitable candidate?”.

With journalism reforming daily due to the “need” for digital media incorporation, I think that we will see an increased number of these data visualization things:

  1. Because people like numbers.
  2. Because they look really snazzy on a website.


It’s easy to see that these could be the future of last second reporting, as Illustrator is

Capture.PNGquick to learn and numbers are everywhere (I’m serious Google any stat, and the internet has your back).

Join us next time to keep up with the 2016 Race to the White House.

Raise Minimum Wage? A Question Sure to Start an Argument at the Dinner Table

Politics are rarely safe to bring up around the dinner table, let alone your circle of friends. From differing opinions to waivering stances, political conversations can be sticky.

Today we spoke with two passionate students from the University of Michigan in regards to the hot topic issue in the 2016 election- raising minimum wage. Join Max, head of Students for Rubio, and Rebecca, on leadership team for U of M’s Fight for 15, as we delve into an important issue for students and adults alike.

Thanks for listening! Join us next week and for the remainder of the semester as we continue to follow the race to the White House.