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Government Technology Featured Article

January 08, 2013

Minnesota Becomes Latest State Legislature to Broadcast via Social Media

By Tracey E. Schelmetic, TMCnet Contributor

If you’re a fan of reality television, perhaps you’re getting bored with the current choices. If big-haired, fake-tanned dimwits; obnoxious children and people eating bugs to survive in the wilderness just aren’t doing it for you anymore, perhaps it’s time to turn to the biggest knock-down, drag-out show in town: politics.

Thanks to social media, more and more U.S. state legislatures are opening their sessions to the viewing public, eliminating the need for politics-watchers to travel physically to capitols and state houses.

Minnesota is the latest to broadcast sessions via social media. A new legislative session is about to begin in the state and for the first time interested viewers can watch, virtually, from the Minnesota state House and Senate public galleries. The feed will be carried on both the state legislature's website to social media sites like Facebook (News - Alert) and Twitter, offering increasingly real-time views of Capitol happenings, according to an Associated Press article published this week. From a high drama standpoint, this session should be entertaining and possibly downright hostile: Democrats are in complete charge for the first time in years, and there are likely to be hot debates over tax increases, gay marriage, gun laws and plenty of other interesting issues.

Minnesota is not the first state to use Web cams and social media to broadcast legislative and assembly sessions. California allows viewers to peek in on hearings, floor sessions and press conferences; as does New Jersey, Colorado, Nebraska, New York and many others.

More and more government bodies are using social media, such as Facebook and Twitter (News - Alert), to communicate with citizens and other interested parties. These include not only state legislatures and general assemblies, but also departments of tourism, prisons, health departments, agriculture departments, state education facilities and many others.

Thanks to Web-based media and inexpensive hardware such as Web cams, municipal, state and federal governing bodies are able to make the political process more inclusive. The good news is that, since much of it is available through social media, it becomes a two-way process, allowing citizens to comment and ask questions. Whether you’ll get an answer is another story.

Want to learn more about the latest in communications and technology? Then be sure to attend ITEXPO Miami 2013, Jan 29- Feb. 1 in Miami, Florida.  Stay in touch with everything happening at ITEXPO (News - Alert). Follow us on Twitter.

Edited by Brooke Neuman

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