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0000017a-15d9-d736-a57f-17ff8f680000Coverage of the 2016 races in New Hampshire, from the White House to the State House.

Bernie Sanders Uses Social Media To Bypass Mainstream Outlets

A woman records on a smart phone during a town hall meeting for Sen. Bernie Sanders at Nashua Community College in Nashua, N.H. on June 27.
A woman records on a smart phone during a town hall meeting for Sen. Bernie Sanders at Nashua Community College in Nashua, N.H. on June 27.

A key strategy of Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign is a plan to use social media to get his message out to millions of people.

Sanders says he's using this approach because the "corporate media" isn't interested in covering many of the critical economic issues facing the country.

The U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders Facebook page is packed with dozens of videos of Sanders speaking on national TV, making speeches on the Senate floor, and holding news conferences.

There's also information on dozens of issues and there are thousands of comments from people following Sanders on Facebook.

It's a very popular site. Right now more than 1.4 million people have liked Sanders and he's adding roughly 10,000 people a day. He is also drawing visitors to his campaign Facebook page.

Recently, as he was walking back to his U.S. Senate office from the Capitol Building, Sanders explained why Facebook and other social media have become such a top priority for his campaign.

“Social media has revolutionized a whole lot of things and in many ways it works for us because the message that I have been advocating for many, many years is quite difficult to get through the corporate media,” he said. “Those are not issues that they are particularly interested in discussing."

Sanders said the recent debate in Congress over a free trade agreement known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership is a perfect example of how he feels the national media ignores key issues.

"There was virtually no discussion, none, I mean zero, of the Trans-Pacific Partnership on the ABC, CBS or NBC networks. It's hard to believe but that's the case and there are reasons for that,” he said.

Unlike some other political leaders, Sanders said he has no interest in discussing his personal life on Facebook.

“I don't use Facebook to tell people what I am having for dinner or the toothpaste that I use,” he said. “We use Facebook to discuss the most important issues facing America and people respond very, very positively to that. I think there is a real hunger for that kind of discussion in America."  

Megan Remmel is a political science professor at Norwich University. She says there are a lot of advantages for the Sanders campaign to have an active presence on Facebook.

“Facebook is a way to put out your message the way you want it portrayed. So there's no changing of the framing of it,” she said.

AndRemmelthinks Sanders makes a valid point about how the national media covers complicated economic issues.

"I think Bernie's right in that there are stories and some of the issues that he's focusing on, don't necessarily fit the type of stories that tend to generate viewers and readers and listeners and therefore bring in advertising dollars to media companies,” she said

Remmelsays the Sanders Facebook page is very interactive and she notes that many people have taken the opportunity to discuss important issues.

"A lot of them really are kind of elaborating on Bernie's positions even throwing out some kind of ideas of what they think policy should look like,” she said.

The Sanders campaign also has an active Twitter account to get his message out. Almost half a million people follow Sen. Sanders on Twitter and he's adding several thousand people a day to his account.

Copyright 2015 Vermont Public Radio

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