Skype in Media: expanding the electorate

Social media and technology have rapidly grown in importance as a forum for political engagement. Social platforms such as Skype, Twitter and Periscope promote and facilitate personal engagement in political life, where elections and electoral campaigns have a central role.

Some pundits and commentators argue that, although the presence of social media is spreading and media usage patterns are changing, online political engagement is largely restricted to people who already are active in politics and who are technologically savvy. Some go as far as to suggest a kind of elitism that has come to exist in access to information. One group who was situated at the very heart ofMicrosoft’s Media Center in Des Moines during the recent Iowa Caucuses set about to reverse that trend. Skype TX’s studio-grade broadcasting center was available to broadcasters helping everyone in every country become witness to history as voter turnout in both parties set record-highs.

Political candidates, political parties, and those advising and running election campaigns have most certainly become aware that mobile devices and computers represent a new frontier of political contact above and beyond the traditional use of media advertisements, phone calls, and direct mail. Still, according to a recent Gallup poll, the majority of Americans still have yet to be affected by the use of mobile technology for political purposes.

Skype TX combines the very best of both worlds – the traditional press and new media – thereby connecting the greatest possible number of potential voters with landmark electoral events such as the recent Iowa Caucuses. The Skype TX mobile studio in downtown Des Moines enabled broadcasters to seamlessly integrate a potential cast of 300 million users into a studio workflow, and straight into the heart of global media coverage from the Iowa Caucuses during this crucial electoral cycle. Its reach doesn’t stop there, however, and with television, print and online media outlets still serving as the most important sources of political information to a large sector of Americans less reliant on technology, Skype TX’s true impact centers on the breadth of coverage varieties it enables.

To say the media landscape has been altered is an understatement, and the sheer volume of new media services and outlets have decreased profit margins for many conventional media staples such as television network affiliate stations, local radio and newspapers. The outcome has meant that fewer of these former media outlet staples can afford to dispatch crews of reporters and production engineers to events such as the Iowa Caucuses, let alone pay thousands of dollars for satellite-time to beam their signal back home to viewers or listeners.

By using Skype TX, smaller teams from television, radio, and online media outlets inside Des Moines’ media center were able to report their stories and benefited from the broadcast center’s support of all major audio and video resolutions. Skype’s enhanced control and management features allowed for multiple HD quality audio and video feeds to produce the highest class of broadcast integrations. Skype TX is certified by Microsoft and its ease of use is loved by professionals the world over.

Media outlets that may not otherwise have been able to afford a presence in Iowa were able to beam coverage of America’s first in the nation caucuses back to hundreds-of-thousands of their listeners and viewers with the benefits of a full team of broadcasters, but a zero cost. The breadth of media organizations who benefited from use of the Skype TX studio in Des Moines included traditional broadcasters RTEand Globo; Digital enterprises such VICE News and YouTube media darling The Young Turks; and radio stations in remote yet politically influential and swing territories across the country.

Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders’ campaign press secretary Symone Sanders remarked how social media and technology in general have allowed their campaign to reach a much wider audience with their message of taking control of American back from the billionaires. Thanks to deployment in Iowa and beyond of new technologies such as Skype TX this electoral cycle, the campaign’s message can actually reach a wider audience that includes the lower to middle class members of society via more traditional media outlets taking advantage of the best that broadcast technology has to offer. Likewise, other candidates can be sure their message reaches sectors of society to whom their clarion call sounds most relevant thanks to Skype TX.

In addition to providing communications infrastructure to media outlets from across the globe covering the Iowa Caucuses, Skype in Media produced the first videos in their content series “Closer with Skype: Election 2016.” These offerings document various perspectives from the heart of the Iowa Caucuses exploring the role of technology in shaping this electoral cycle from global media icons such as Sky News’ top anchor covering his fifth presidential election for a leading European news network, Jeremy Thompson; the Clinton Campaign’s press secretary and chief spokesman, Brian Fallon; Iowa’s unprecedented six-term Governor Terry Branstad; and Washington Post columnist and national best-selling author, EJ Dionne, among numerous others.

Regardless of candidate, political party or ideology, participation in the political process made possible through the use of groundbreaking Skype technology delivered via traditional media to the masses at no cost: that’s Skype revolutionizing not just the political process, but democracy in general.

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