It is a pretty unique experience when your professional and hobby worlds collide. This happened to me a few months ago, when I stumbled upon the Washington Post and NY Times coverage of the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War. Without a doubt, there will be a plethora of events over the next few years to commemorate this important era of our history, from reenactments to scholarly debates. However, I was fascinated by how the media, specifically the Post and the Times, have embraced social media and the Internet in order to cover events that happened 150 years ago.
The first examples I came across were the daily pieces in the NY Times Opinionator blog titled Disunion. As you can tell from the title, this is clearly written by a Yankee. The blog is fascinating for Civil War buffs like myself, as it takes a look at many of the bigger picture factors behind the cause of the war itself. There are many prominent guest authors and the discussion by its readers in the comments section has also been intriguing. The Times has also been utilizing Facebook to keep readers’ interest and discussions evolving.
For my Charlie Sheen-esque Civil War “fix,” I turn to the Washington Post’s “gnarly” Civil War 150. The Post manages a solid blog about events and topics surrounding the war, but what really caught my attention was how they are leveraging Twitter to report and educate. The Post has done an awesome job creating a variety of Twitter accounts for prominent figures from the era. Individuals such as Abraham Lincoln, Jefferson Davis, Major Robert Anderson and Governor Pickens are tweeting in “the words of the people who lived it 150 years ago – from journals, letters, records and newspapers.”
What lesson can be learned from this? Remember to think outside the box when trying to develop online strategies. If Abraham Lincoln can tweet, imagine what your organization can do?
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