November 5, 2012

Can Someone Please Let Me Out?! — Instagram, Twitter and Those Freezing People Trapped at Romney PA Rally Last Night


Instagram and Twitter were my salvation in getting through the campaign this year. Instagram, especially.  The demand it placed on reporters as imaginary photojournalists, as well as the creative challenge to real shooters wielding cell phones and posting to their own accounts made for wonderful access without much if any (editorial) filtering.

Given the free-wheeling nature of it all, last night’s brouhaha over Team Romney supposedly preventing shivering people from leaving an evening rally in Pennsylvania was a perfect example of the bootstrap  and near-realtime nature of these platforms. Here’s my edited “cut-and-paste” timeline:

1. The USA Today reporter indicated on Instagram that the Romney campaign wouldn’t let people, although tired and very cold, leave its rally last night in Pennsylvania.

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Adds photo and caption:

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2. The NYT reporter tweeted as much.

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3. Photo and caption by WAPO reporter about this same point.

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4 NYT reporter starts to walk it back:

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5. The other NYT reporter explained on Twitter it was a lot more innocent than that. (First NYT reporter retweets same.)

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6. Then USAT reporter (adding couple tweets) retracts:

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Meanwhile, for a still broader flavor of what the campaign is inspiring on Instagram, there were rockstar photographers Christopher Morris and Christopher Anderson doing their own riff on the event last night.


Besides all the references to Morris’s shot in the comments section having to do with an infamous former dictator (not sure where I’ve been, but I’d never heard “Mitler” before), I liked this one from someone named “zanwah” who wrote:

“He’s gonna be a bigger blur after Tuesday.”

Then just below, Anderson captures a Secret Service agent secretly heading for the exit himself while a thin multicolored film of ectoplasm from the planet Zircon descends over the crowd. (Thank you for indulging me that.)


Seriously, though. Back to the entrapment theme, not being able to escape is such a the perfect metaphor to end this campaign with. As an exercise that lacked powerful themes or large ideas, I can’t say I’m sorry Campaign ’12 is ending. At the same time, however, given the wonderful window I had via Instagram (here are some of my favs: 1, 2, 3, 4 ), I am going to miss it. I could be completely wrong, but it’s hard to imagine that 2016, as these platforms mature, will offer this much Wild West.

But wait, wait. Did I forget to mention the photo leading this post? Also taken by WAPO reporter Philip Rucker, the caption reads:

Romney advance staffer rests beneath the press riser during today’s Cleveland rally.

For a second, I thought this guy must be one of the Romney master controllers responsible for keeping those freezing and starving citizens from getting out.

Post By

Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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