But like any other tool, he said, its effectiveness really depends on the
"Nothing beats on-the-ground reporting, just being the person at that meeting reporting on what they are saying," he said. "Social media has definitely become a way that you can do that instantaneously. There are all these anecdotes that may not fit into a story, but people are interested in hearing about them."
Past sessions, he said, featured lots of tweets from people who were observing the session. Now, he said, tweets more often are coming from advocates, organizations and agencies.
While the individuals and organizations with the most social media contact seem to be on the political left, they no longer hold a monopoly on the tools. GOP Twitter handles and those from more conservative perspectives in New Mexico generally have fewer followers and make fewer posts -- @GOPHouse last made a post Feb. 5 -- but they are present.
Among examples of regular users are former Sen. Rod Adair, R-Roswell, who is now an administrator for the Secretary of State's Office and who challenged journalists and Democrats with a confrontational style on Twitter.
Rob Nikolewski, who produces New Mexico Capitol Report, said he gets classified on the right side of the political spectrum but really considers himself a libertarian. He said it's true that people on the left side of the political spectrum in New Mexico historically have been more active on social media but the right is likely to catch up.
"I was a little reluctant at first but I was sort of told 'do it and that it would help your site,' which was true," he said, "So I imagine that anybody -- left, center, right -- if they are starting something or they've got any kind of media presence, they are begin told from on high 'Use this stuff. Use the social media to get your stuff out.' I think it's almost universal now."
In the Senate Republican press office, Diane Kinderwater said the focus was on a new website, as well as Facebook and YouTube. Rather than connecting with constituents, she said, those tools have mostly been for outreach to media outlets that aren't reporting from Santa Fe.
"We updated our press releases on Facebook and provided digital interviews that we posted on YouTube," she said, noting that radio stations in the rural reaches of the state often used content for on-air soundbites.
"It's not always what you put out," said JD Gins, who worked during the session as a spokesman for House Democrats and tried to juggle a presence on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube for his bosses. "You can also use Twitter as a barometer for what reactions are happening to different announcements or to things passing."
Individual lawmakers got in on the action, with House Majority Whip Moe Maestas, D-Albuquerque, and Rep. Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe, often sending tweets during floor sessions and committee hearings. Others said they used social media to keep tabs on committees in other rooms while sitting in hearings of their own. Riechbach noted that using social media is a way for lawmakers to directly communicate without the filter of traditional news media reporting.
"They can just tweet exactly what they want to say and everybody sees it," he said. "I think a lot of people in power like that."
Gins said that's likely to become more common here, as it already is in other states where he's worked.
"You can't really have a press shop or you are not really fully communicating with your constituents or with the press in general if you don't exercise in that arena," he said.
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