Or should that be social networking in the news?
For a start, the January 30th edition of The Economist contains a special report on social networking. The report is available on-line for download at http://www.economist.com/members/survey_paybarrier.cfm?issue=20100130&surveyCode=NA
There was also a piece on the same topic in the New Statesman of 1 February 2010 by Will Straw (Where would we be without the nepotism of the political classes?)
Social media is a useful tool for media-whoring amongst the Twittering classes but can only benefit street-level political organization when those on the receiving end of it also employ their personal skills amongst the digitally excluded (for whatever reason). As I’ve found, it can also have some use as an academic research tool, within the toolkit of traditional approaches.
I’m not aware of any of the local or national politicians I have a particular interest in using social media, and in most cases what they have to say in the conventional media is pretty trite, so where’s the likely benefit? Well, they could try putting out the sort of stories that might get me to trust them once more, such as describing how they’ve made this world a better place by being in the seat of power they occupy. Am I asking too much?