Posts from November 21, 2004

Good news

Good news

: Who can say this is not good news?

Iraq will hold its first democratic elections for more than 50 years on January 30, it was announced yesterday.

America, the brand

America, the brand

: I just saw the most remarkable piece of product placement/advertising/political positioning. On American Dreams, teen soldier JJ returns home with just a damaged leg and psyche and his hard-ass father gives him a car: a Mustang.

Cut to the commercial, the only one in the hour: A modern-day soldier returns home, presumably from Iraq. The story is stretched out as his kid brother drives him and his mom home (in a Ford) and the soldier has to wait for his father, who has some issues. Finally, the father returns, driving his own Mustang, the same vintage as the one we just saw in the ’60s American Dreams. The father talks about his return; if he’s not JJ, he’s an ’00 proxy. And this father gives his son a car. You guessed it: a Mustang. “We at Ford wish everyone in the Armed Forces a safe return home,” the chyron says. “For your service, you have our gratitude.”

I have no idea whether this is brilliant advertising or brilliant exploitation.

(But as we know, Ford/Lincoln/Mercury is a red-state brand.)

A blogging demo

A blogging demo

: There’s someone here taking pictures of a blogger blogging. It’s every bit as exciting as you’d imagine. A geek typing. I’ve had that happen a few times when people want to do stories on blogging and want to make it visual: “Go ahead, blog,” they say, as, oh, I don’t know, we’re going to take off our clothes and end up in our PJs cackling madly. Blogging is just not visual. Whittling is more exciting.

Distributed reporting

Distributed reporting

: Finally catching up with email and read a neat notion from Jay Rosen. He noted that Josh Marshall was getting his readers to call their representatives to see whether they had voted for the DeLay Rule since (a) the votes weren’t recorded and (b) the reps would be more likely to level with voters than with reporters. “Great example of blogging doing journalism one better,” says Jay. Right. It’s distributed reporting: The people do the digging.

I can imagine a score of stories where this would work: You ask your readers to call their congressmen to find out a stance and put together a chart (a wiki would work better for this than blog comments, by the way). You have your fellow bloggers each tell you whether the newspapers and TV and radio stations in their town covered a story you think is important and even have them all call the papers’ editors to ask why not. I think a lot of our open-space tax dollars are wasted on space nobody’d want anyway, so I could ask people to take pictures of stupid open space purchases near them. But it’s not restricted to bloggers alone: A smart reporter could start a blog and ask readers what’s happening in the communities they cover.

Whither weblogs?

Whither weblogs?

: The Philadelphia Inquirer asked me to write an op-ed on the future of weblogs after the election — yes, there is one. Here it is.