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January 23, 2011 / J. Shaw

News Boycott of Sarah Palin, Twitter Campaign

The Washington Post is engaging in online political activism by encouraging its readers to boycott news coverage of Sarah Palin.

The Milbank column, poll, and anti-Palin Twitter campaign were published in The Post’s prestigious Outlook section, which hosts the Sunday print edition’s opinions and editorials.

Milbank wrote he was pledging to not write about or mention Palin for the entire month of February. He called on fellow media members to join him with the hope the boycott could be made permanent.

“But today is the first day of the rest of my life.  And so, I hereby pledge that, beginning on Feb 1, 2011, I will not mention Sarah Palin – in print, online or on television – for one month. Furthermore, I call on others in the news media to join me in this pledge of a Palin-free February. With enough support, I believe we may even be able to extend the moratorium beyond one month, but we are up against a powerful compulsion, and we must take this struggle day by day.”

 

Milbank’s call for a Palin boycott is reminiscent of  behind the scenes coordination by members of Journolist. In this case however, Milbank and The Post are making viral a campaign that has been wished for by others in the media who hate Palin and do not want to see her become president of the United States.

The Post’s campaign against Palin even has a logo: A cartoon drawing of Palin with a “shhh” finger pressed to her lips, encased in a blue border with the wording, 

“Palin-Free Month, Take the Pledge”

The Post has picked up the call initiated this morning by Post columnist Dana Milbank, adding a Twitter link on the column page. The link generates a message to be sent from a Twitter member’s page that reads, “I’m making February a Palin-free month. Will you join me?”

The Post added the Twitter link to Milbank’s column this afternoon, several hours after running and pulling a Washington Post online poll about boycotting Sarah Palin news coverage.  The poll initially accompanied The Post’s Milbank op-ed but was pulled within hours of publication at WashingtonPost.com.

The poll, which questioned Post readers whether they would support a Palin news boycott, received the support of eighty percent of approximately 450 votes cast.

“Post columnist Dana Milbank has pledged not to write anything about Sarah Palin for one month. Would you pledge not read or watch coverage of Palin for one month?”

Yes: 70%; I’ll try: 10%; No: 20%.

 The text of The Post’s call to action:

Who’s with Milbank: Will you take the Palin Pledge?

“Post columnist Dana Milbank has pledged not to write anything about Sarah Palin for a month. Would you pledge to not read or watch coverage of Palin for one month? Join Milbank by taking the Palin Pledge.”

 

 

Milbank’s editor Marisa Katz, who did not edit the piece for Outlook, told Big Journalism the poll was inserted this morning as a placeholder because the Twitter campaign to boycott Palin was not ready to go live when the article went online.

Katz said the anti-Palin Twitter campaign was “not an endorsement” by The Post. However, the campaign bears no disclaimer and The Post provides a direct link and anti-Palin message for forwarding via Twitter.

Katz said the Twitter campaign is part of The Post’s efforts to engage its readers in two-way communication.

Without a disclaimer though, the effort has the appearance of an anti-Palin campaign organized by The Washington Post.

A check of Twitter showed that many users are forwarding The Washington Post anti-Palin message to their followers.

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