Transparency has been the motto of the Walsh administration ever since Mayor Martin J. Walsh, WCAS ’09, took office. According to BetaBoston, on Thursday, April 24, at 2:30 p.m. Walsh will bolster that notion by hosting an event onReddit.
No, this is not a sit-down interview with Anderson Cooper on 60 Minutes. Nor is it a full-blown feature in the New York Timesdetailing Walsh’s government policy.
Instead, I’m talking about Reddit.
For those unfamiliar with this website, Reddit provides entertainment, social networking, and news to its viewers. Registered community members can submit content, such as text posts or direct links, and subsequently “up” or “down” vote page submissions to organize posts and determine their position on the site’s page.
So why would 47-year-old Walsh choose to collaborate with a website that is primarily tailored to the teenage and younger generations?
The answer: It is part of his job. As mayor, Walsh needs to be accessible to all Bostonians. In this day and age, a mayor must utilize social media, because such tools give a voice not only to younger individuals who abide by them, but to a large portion of other age groups and demographics that do not normally interact with local lawmakers.
As a middle-aged man who is not the most tech-savvy individual, Walsh has adapted very well to social media over the past year. Prior to last October, Walsh never had the need to use Twitter, Facebook, or Reddit.
I know many middle-aged and older individuals, like Walsh, who are attempting to adapt to our tech-savvy world. I’ve heard countless relatives refer to Facebook and the “tweeter” as completely foreign concepts. It is only natural for Walsh to feel somewhat alienated from our generation, and his attempt to use social media platforms ranging from Vine to Instagram is admirable. He understands that social media has the power to bridge the gap between municipal leaders and residents.
With just over 100 days in office under his belt, Walsh has already hosted two Twitter chats as well as a Facebook question-and-answer session, where Bostonians and others have peppered him with questions ranging from fiscal policy issues to his favorite TV show. On Tuesday, Walsh announced via a Vine video that he would host another social media questionnaire on Reddit.
On Thursday, Walsh will participate in Reddit’s AMA, which stands for “ask me anything,” and allows users to make themselves available to the online community. Reddit users will be able to participate in the online forum by asking Walsh any question they desire.
Walsh is not the only one who has spent time on the website’s AMA session. A number of local stars have participated, including New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman and Academy Award-winning actor Matt Damon. Walsh will also join a prestigious list of Reddit AMA stars that includes President Barack Obama, Bill Murray, Snoop Dogg, Scott Stapp, and Woody Harrelson.
Walsh’s AMA has the potential to be very informative and entertaining-especially since the format of the website allows for questions that can be rather controversial as well as inconsequential and often random.
Walsh will probably face some of the standard questions that are demanded of political officials, including the legalization of marijuana and other controversial issues. It is likely he will also be asked about many of the present topics facing the city, containing the Boston Public School system, the future of the Seaport district, gentrification, and gun control in Boston.
Although he’s been mayor of Boston for just over 100 days, Walsh has done a great job acclimating to the fast-paced role of governing the city and connecting to the large demographic groups of Bostonians.
His next task as mayor is to step up his Twitter game.