Tech-savvy Newark Mayor Booker: Government flunking social media

Mon Mar 11, 2013 7:39am EDT
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By Corrie MacLaggan

AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - Cory Booker, the constantly tweeting mayor of Newark, New Jersey, who intends to run for the U.S. Senate, said on Sunday that the federal government needs to reinvent the often overly formal way it uses social media.

"It's just using it as an announcement system, like you used to listen to in class: ‘The cafeteria will be serving roast beef, and I will be at this place or that place'," Booker told Reuters after an appearance at the South by Southwest Interactive Festival in Austin, Texas. "But that's not interaction, that's not collaboration."

Booker, 43, a rising star in the Democratic Party who has more than 1.3 million followers on Twitter, told the Austin audience that he can't be a mayor who sits behind a desk and waits for the world to come to him.

Last year, the Newark mayor was hailed as a hero for inviting into his home neighbors who, he learned on Twitter, lost power because of Superstorm Sandy.

He also uses Twitter to give city phone numbers to constituents, share inspirational quotes, declare his love for the TV series Star Trek and answer questions from local students while admonishing them not to tweet in class.

"On it," he replied to a resident who complained recently of a broken street light.

Booker, who made a failed run for Newark mayor in 2002 before winning the job in 2006, said he's been hooked on Twitter since actor Ashton Kutcher called and told him why he should dive into the micro-blogging site.

'TELLING YOUR TRUTH'   Continued...

Newark, New Jersey Mayor Cory Booker speaks during day one of TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2012 event at the San Francisco Design Center Concourse in San Francisco, California September 10, 2012. REUTERS/Stephen Lam