By Jeb Bladine • President / Publisher • 

Jeb Bladine: Revisiting choice to avoid tweeting

Communication technology passed me by as I avoided joining Twitter — a choice I reconsidered while watching the 2016 presidential campaigns.

(Point of reference: That opening paragraph is exactly 140 characters — the maximum length of a Twitter message.)

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Jeb Bladine is president and publisher of the News-Register.

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As someone who struggles each week to cram a cogent message into about 400 words, I probably have a subconscious fear of trying to accomplish that feat with just 140 characters. Or, maybe a penchant for privacy prevents me from seeking out an extended Twitter network, which might explain my half-hearted efforts with Facebook and LinkedIn.

More likely, I came to the conclusion at some point that time spent communicating in person, by phone, and via email, fax and texting is all I can devote to the social process now known as “messaging.” There just aren’t enough hours in the day for me to play with Twitter, Google , tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest, reddit or flickr, to name a few prominent social media platforms.

But back to Twitter, and presidential politics:

A New York Times headline this week declared, “Clinton’s Convention Is Made for TV. Trump’s Was Made for Twitter.”

Donald Trump uses the viral nature of Twitter to engage millions of voters who feel a personal connection to the candidate through his short missives. Trump has 10.3 million Twitter followers receiving his messages; he has issued, at recent count, nearly 33,000 “tweets.”

Those tweets, combined with Trump’s verbal rages, have dominated much of the campaign media coverage. As The Washington Post wondered recently, “Yes, Trump sucks up all the media oxygen. How big a problem is that for Clinton?”

Hillary Clinton is no slouch herself on Twitter. She has 7.8 million followers, but her 7,000 tweets haven’t made much of a dent with the media. It just isn’t her natural style.

One interesting sidelight: Hillary is following 690 other Twitter users, whose thoughts appear on her home page; Donald follows just 40 people. This comparison might suggest how interested the candidates are, respectively, in the opinions of others.

Singer Katy Perry has 91 million followers to lead a Twitter world dominated by celebrities. She is followed by Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift and, in fourth place with 76 million followers, President Barack Obama.

Closer to home, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown has 13,400 followers while following 88 others; challenger Bud Pierce, surprisingly close in recent polls, has fewer than 500 followers but is following almost 400 other tweeters.

All very interesting. But for me, the Twitter jury is still out.

Jeb Bladine can be reached at jbladine@newsregister.com or 503-687-1223.

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