So John Edwards announced his presidential announcement on YouTube in a video made by Andrew Baron and Joanne Colan of Rocketboom (who put up their own interview the next day) and Chuck Olsen (who, Andrew reports, is flying with Edwards to make video for the official campaign site). The digital cool doesn’t end there. Edwards tells you to text the word “hope” to a given number to get more instructions; how mobile. As NewTeeVee reports, he has Robert Scoble trailing around with a camera as well. He’s “live-bloggin” (their usage, not the usual meaning) at Daily Kos. He’s trying to create is own sort of Peace Corps called One Corps with people signing up online to do good deeds under his brand (they will “fight poverty” and, oh, while they’re at it, flog candidates who “support One America ideals’ [that was the old name of this campaign effort] and spread the word by calling radio stations). And tonight he’s having an online town hall from Iowa.
How cyber can you get?
Is this all just a publicity stunt to look modern and cool or is this a turning point in how campaigns are run? We’ll know in about a decade.
From a media perspective, Edwards got to put his message out there without reporters and gatekeepers. It didn’t get out far without them, though; this morning, he had fewer than 10,000 views on YouTube. I also wish there had been reporters there who’d pushed him on his answers. Instead, we get his platitudinous and oprahesque message: It’s about change — it’s always about change. “We have to accept responsibility. We have to change the country.” Why? How? He gets to put up his own “news” and interviews with himself: “I actually want the country to see who I am, who I truly am. . . . I’d rather be successful or unsuccessful based on who I really am not based on some plastic Ken doll you put up in front of audiences.” Then again, his video lives in a space of other Edwards moments: We see
Ken John getting made up in he feels pretty, for example, and we see Wal-Mart counterattack.
Will this campaign still be run by broadcast and cable TV and advertising? I fear so. But just as blogs are now simply part of the media landscape — read and used by journalists, pundits, and politicians — so will the video of campaigns be part of the fabric of campaigns: the candidates’ own statements, their own embarrassing moments, and more.