Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Social media takes center stage at RNC

A digital media “green room” will be near the convention stage inside the Tampa Bay Times Forum to allow speakers to post to Twitter or Facebook, conduct interviews on Skype, take photos or conduct Google hangouts before, during or after speeches.


A digital media “green room” will be near the convention stage inside the Tampa Bay Times Forum to allow speakers to post to Twitter or Facebook, conduct interviews on Skype, take photos or conduct Google hangouts before, during or after speeches.

For CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer, the promise of social media's impact on coverage of the Republican National Convention is simple:

It can turn reporting the news into a conversation.

"Very often, I'll get a tweet from somebody who (notes a mistake) ... and I'll correct it right away," said Blitzer, who wasn't even on Twitter during the 2008 RNC and now has 540,000 followers. "I know it will change our coverage in Tampa."

That's the kind of interaction a host of technology companies, media outlets and even convention organizers expect at the RNC; leveraging a host of social media platforms to place huge chunks of what happens here online.

Yahoo! has teamed with ABC News on live convention coverage streamed online. Facebook has a team roaming the convention to help people upload content, releasing a voting app developed with CNN.

As the official social media platform for the RNC, Google will livestream all podium speeches in prime time and organize "hangouts" on its Google+ service where analysts, politicians and journalist can talk to the public.

And every media outlet here has its own array of platforms, raising the question: How will the first political convention of the social media age be different than what came before?

"It's just not sufficient for most users to passively take in material anymore," said David Chalian, Washington bureau chief for Yahoo! "They want to participate."

The RNC itself set the tone, dubbing its gathering a "convention without walls," using Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Linkedin, Foursquare and more to bring well-managed content outside of the event halls, receptions and panel discussions.

But for a political party bent on delivering a single, powerful message, it could be a nightmare; 50,000 attendees and 15,000 journalists each carrying a smartphone, ready for the slightest gaffe.

"In the Olympics, we saw the #NBCfail hashtag created right after the opening ceremonies," said Lou Ferrara, managing editor at the Associated Press.

Could there be an #RNCfail created here? "Probably not ... but we can't predict what the masses will say," Ferrara said.

In an RNC first, convention organizers have created a social media "war room" of sorts staffed by 16 people in the Tampa Convention Center, examining social media platforms and providing content.

There's also a digital media "green room" planned near the convention stage, where speakers can post to Twitter or Facebook, conduct interviews on Skype, take photos or conduct Google hangouts before, during or after speeches.

"We wanted to leverage the technologies so every American anywhere could be a part of this," said James Davis, director of communications for the RNC. "We're building a community online that allows us to amplify the convention."

Still, despite the risks, some experts say the GOP will remain firmly in control of their message.

"I think we'll hear a lot about certain moments that light up the social media space," Yahoo!'s Chalian said. "But I don't think it will alter the news of the convention, unless something seriously goes awry ... like a hurricane."

>>social media

Follow the Tampa Bay Times:


Tag your Twitter or

Instagram pics with this:


Some social media outlets to look for:

Tampa Bay Times and the RNC:

Hash tags to follow: #RNC2012, #GOP2012, #RNC

The convention's official Twitter: @GOPConvention

To see all the convention's social media platforms:

For apps, search for Tampa 2012 (official RNC), CNN/Time convention floor (CNN and TIME magazine), My 2012 Tampa (Bloomberg)

Facebook's social media tips for RNC:

Social media takes center stage at RNC 08/26/12 [Last modified: Sunday, August 26, 2012 8:46am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Jordan Spieth wins British Open (w/ video)


    SOUTHPORT, England — Someday, perhaps soon, there will be a plaque at Royal Birkdale for Jordan Spieth, much like the one off the 16th hole that celebrates Arnold Palmer and the 6-iron he slashed out of the rough in 1961 to win the British Open and usher in a new era of golf.

    Matt Kuchar plays out of the bunker on the 18th hole and finishes with bogey for 1-under 69. He had a one-shot lead after 13 holes.
  2. Fennelly: Brutal weekend could be start of something worse for Rays

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Well, that was lovely.

    Brad Boxberger suffers his second loss in the three-game series, this time by allowing back-to-back homers in the eighth inning when called on to protect a 5-3 lead. “Just bad pitches,” he says.
  3. Wesley Chapel hockey camp impresses youth players, parents

    Lightning Strikes

    WESLEY CHAPEL — As a 17-year-old Triple-A hockey player, MacCallum Brown regularly plays against elite talent. As a Palm Harbor resident, he often has to travel to face that talent.

  4. Rays claim not to be panicking after third straight brutal loss to Rangers (w/ video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — There was no "here we go again" moment in the dugout as Rougned Odor's two-run homer in the eighth inning arced across Tropicana Field and toward the rightfield seats, even though when it landed, the score was tied and another late-inning Rays lead was blown.

    Rays third baseman Evan Longoria heads back to the dugout after fouling out in the ninth inning with the potential tying run on first.
  5. White House signals acceptance of Russia sanctions bill


    WASHINGTON — The White House indicated Sunday that President Donald Trump would accept new legislation imposing sanctions on Russia and curtailing his authority to lift them on his own, a striking turnaround after a broad revolt in Congress by lawmakers of both parties who distrusted his friendly approach to …

    President Donald Trump’s ability to lift sanctions against Russia would be blocked.