Guardian column: YouTube debate

My Guardian column this week is about the YouTube debates, bringing together some of what I’ve talked about here. (Nonregistration version here.) Snippet:

The two media did not mix well. CNN displayed the YouTube videos in small squares on a big screen shot by a big camera – reduced, finally, to postage stamps on our screens. It seemed the network was ashamed to show the videos full-screen because they would not look like real TV. But, of course, that’s just the point. They weren’t real TV. They were bits of conversation.

TV doesn’t know how to have a conversation. TV knows how to perform. The event’s moderator, CNN’s Anderson Cooper, behaved almost apologetically about the intrusion of these real people, who speak without benefit of make-up. He interrupted the candidates constantly, allowing them shallow soundbites a fraction the length and depth of even a YouTube video.

So I wish we’d have the YouTube debate on YouTube and leave TV behind. A few of the candidates are beginning to answer voters’ questions and challenges directly, small-camera-to-small-camera. Thus they are opening up a dialogue between candidate and constituent that was not possible before the internet: a conversation in our new public square. That is how elections should be held, amid the citizens.

  • It’s a shame that the Republican candidates (minus The Mayor and McCain) might feel degraded by participating in a YouTube debate. They focus on YouTube the brand, the website where kids can post videos of skateboarding accidents or stupid experiments with Mentos and Coke! They don’t get YouTube the medium or more broadly the interaction of people-to-people online conversation. The potential for citizen input and constituent/candidate dialog is immense, if only they would participate in the burgeoning online video medium and get past their YouTube stigmas and stereotypes.

  • Pingback: ITV News falls into the citizen journalism trap « Online Journalism Blog()

  • I think having the debate as it was was much better than the previous debates, even with its shortcomings. Having non-pros ask questions felt good, and despite some fluff questions, yielded some interesting questions asked in interesting ways.

  • Reminds me of:I got the bill for my surgery. Now I know what those doctors were wearing masks for. ~James H. Boren

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