Monday, August 29, 2011

Rethinking That Tweet About Fish Tacos from the Council Chambers

Social media proves to be political gray area as elected officials grapple with their use and emerging technologies.   (Oshkosh Northwestern, 8/27/2011)

Excerpt:    Digital communications experts and a younger generation of elected officials see Twitter posts, Facebook updates and text messages as an important tool that elected officials can use to inform and engage more people than just those at the meeting. Esslinger’s concern about appearances and etiquette if a councilor or congressman buries their head in a cell phone or iPad during a public discussion is something University of Wisconsin Life Sciences Professor Dietram Scheufele said every elected official needs to think about before they use any of the new media during a meeting.

“Politicians have an opportunity to engage a constituency that might not always be engaged,” Scheufele said. “Transparency comes with it, but you have to understand that, as with the Anthony Weiner case, one character can end your career.”

A poorly timed Tweet didn’t cost State Sen. Jessica King, D-Oshkosh, her seat on the Oshkosh Common Council, but it did give her pause to rethink how she uses the real-time communication tool. During an October 2010 council meeting, King was Tweeting results of key votes during the meeting, but then sent out a message that she was looking forward to fish tacos at a local restaurant once the meeting ended, touching off a minor storm and led her to rethink how she uses a vital communication tool

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