Published July 17, 2016
By Mark Tranhant TrahantReports
So how do we get the word out in an era of social media?
The problem with answering that question is that the rules keep changing. This whole enterprise has gone through lots of experiments.
When I first started it was really a newspaper column on the web. I’d write once a week, post it, send an email to media that used the column, and that was that.
Then I noticed more and more people shared the pieces on social media. So I reframed it along those lines. (I am also writing way too often for most media. By the time this election season is over I will have posted about 150,000 words, writing several items a week).
Several readers have asked about “bias.” I do want to be clear about that: I am independent, but I write opinion posts, not straight news copy. My focus is on Native American candidates and that means writing about both parties and the policy choices that I think important. (One additional note: I will not be covering the party conventions. I’ll write overview pieces, but will keep my focus on Native candidates. It would be great to chronicle the Native American delegates in Cleveland and Philadelphia but I don’t have the resources to do everything I want.)
What posts get the most readership? Clearly graphics. By far. One graphic I posted after the Iowa caucus had more than a 100,000 views. My charts about Native candidates for Congress, legislatures, and statewide offices, don’t do that well but their numbers are several times higher than anything I write.
My idea is simple: Try and chronicle every Native American running for office nationwide. First the federal races, then statewide, then legislative candidates. Soon I’d like to add other offices such as county commissions, city councils, mayors, and school boards. I am doing this without a traditional media partner (at least exclusively) but all of my content is “free use” and may be reposted or published by any organization. I think this is how social media works.
I am happy to report that interest continues to grow in #NativeVote16. Last year, for example, looking at data from TweetReach.Com there were about 36,000 accounts following along and today that number is 127, 582. When people are informed, they make better decisions – so I keep cranking out copy.
Mark Trahant is the Charles R. Johnson Endowed Professor of Journalism at the University of North Dakota. He is an independent journalist and a member of The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes. On Twitter @TrahantReports
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