Posts about Politics

Panel points

One more post about tonight’s panel (6p at New York University: Warren Weaver Hall, 251 Mercer St.,. Room 109): With such a lineup of luminaries (Arianna Huffington, Micah Sifry, Lisa Tozzi, Jay Rosen), I’m trying to think of ways to nudge the discussion about politics and the internet into new directions. One thought is to — McLaughlin-like, I’m afraid — start by positing some notions and get reaction. Think of it as Oxford lite or as jump balls. Here are some possibilities. I’d be eager to hear more ideas from you.

* Rudy Giuliani lost the election because of the internet (his MySpace page was closed; he never raised money online from individuals; he never started a movement) and Barack Obama will be nominated if not elected by the internet (he did start a movement using online). True or false? what made Obama’s campaign a movement and how much credit does the internet deserve? What has been the secret to his online success?

* We may be talking about racism in the campaign but we’re not talking about sexism (I’m not seeing it). True or false? If not, why not? And what impact is this ism having?

* Apart from the Hillary Clinton 1984 ad (and a few very recent and fairly click anti-Obama ads), most of the voter video we’ve seen on YouTube is crude and as lacking in skill as it is lacking in intelligence. True or false? I was among those who predicted that we’d see a flowering of voter creativity and advocacy. Why haven’t we?

* The most important online tool for campaigns this year has been — not blogs, not Facebook or MySpace, certainly not Twitter — but YouTube? True or false? Did it really manage to free the candidates from the tyranny of the 15-second soundbite and set the agenda in discussion and coverage? Or is that just web 2.0 wishfulness?

* Whoever wins will have to continue making YouTube videos and blogging or else everything they’re doing in this campaign will have been just a cynical act. True or false? This was the answer to a question I put to the head of David Cameron’s web activities in the UK. Clinton has promised to have agencies blog. Obama has promised to open up data. Will they continue their more personal and human relationship with constituents or is that act soon going to be over?

* We are nowhere nearer Joe Trippi’s dream of eliminating big money and TV from ruling campaigns. True or false? Yes, Obama raised huge money from huge numbers of people, but the amount needed only grew as well and TV is still at the center of campaigns. Is there any hope for Trippi?

* The primary system is broken and the internet is the way to fix it. True or false? The idea of state primaries is outdated when we can all see the same media and interact with campaigns in new ways online.

* The jig is up on journalistic objectivity and the internet forced the issue. True or false?

Or I won’t do this and we’ll discuss the impact of the internet on campaigns and government. As always, I’m eager for your thoughts.

Remember that the panel will be webcast by Rachel Sterne in Groundreport.TV.

P.S. If you’re doing I’m told this about the location: The entrance is blocked by construction so go to 40 West 4th Street, New York University’s Gould Plaza. The entrance to the Courant Institute is on the East side of the plaza (on your left hand side facing the plaza).

Not what they seem

In today’s NY Times, Paul Krugman says that progressives (nee liberals) voting for Barack Obama are not getting the most progressive candidate:

All in all, the candidates’ positions on the mortgage crisis tell the same tale as their positions on health care: a tale that is seriously at odds with the way they’re often portrayed.

Mr. McCain, we’re told, is a straight-talking maverick. But on domestic policy, he offers neither straight talk nor originality; instead, he panders shamelessly to right-wing ideologues.

Mrs. Clinton, we’re assured by sources right and left, tortures puppies and eats babies. But her policy proposals continue to be surprisingly bold and progressive.

Finally, Mr. Obama is widely portrayed, not least by himself, as a transformational figure who will usher in a new era. But his actual policy proposals, though liberal, tend to be cautious and relatively orthodox.

If you were there

I was remiss in my moderator duties. I want to ask you what I should bring up when I moderate a panel Friday evening. Please do help me do my job. The details again: I’m moderating a panel on how the internet is changing politics this Friday at 6p at New York University: Warren Weaver Hall, 251 Mercer St.,. Room 109. The stars of the show: Arianna Huffington, founder of Huffington Post and Off the Bus cofounder; Micah Sifry, editor of TechPresident.com; Lisa Tozzi, The New York Times assistant politics editor responsible for web coverage; Jay Rosen, NYU professor and Off the Bus cofounder. We’ll be talking about how the internet has changed — and will change — politics, media, and government. The event will be webcast by the amazing Rachel Sterne at GroundReport TV. Please join in.

The news will find us

Brian Stelter has an excellent piece in today’s New York Times about young people and their different relationship with media in this campaign. As Pew has pointed out, young people especially (and people of all ages) act as conduits as much as consumers. And they expect to watch video themselves. This is also a clear example of how the peer replaces the editor. My favorite line:

Ms. Buckingham recalled conducting a focus group where one of her subjects, a college student, said, “If the news is that important, it will find me.”

You have to drop that bottle in the ocean, or no one will find it.

And this:

Rather than treating video-sharing Web sites as traditional news sources, young people use them as tools and act as editors themselves.

“We’re talking about a generation that doesn’t just like seeing the video in addition to the story — they expect it,” said Danny Shea, 23, the associate media editor for The Huffington Post (huffingtonpost.com). “And they’ll find it elsewhere if you don’t give it to them, and then that’s the link that’s going to be passed around over e-mail and instant message.”

Now compare and contrast this with Lee Gomes in the Wall Street Journal, who can write clueful and clueless columns on the internet. His latest should be dropped in the latter bucket. He’s just not sure what to make of this internet thing and its impact on politics. Could be bad, could be good. Hmmmm. Web videos, especially on YouTube, are a good place to start. They have been called the death of the TV sound bite, for the way voters can experience lengthy realities without the filters of a news show constrained by time limits and commercials. The 37 minutes of Sen. Obama’s race speech quickly became one of the most widely downloaded.

Less clear is whether YouTube will be just as bad, or worse, at blurring the line between a fair point and a cheap shot than newspapers or TV ever were.

That’s he problem with columns: You have to write them even when you don’t have anything to say. I’ll wait for his next one.

:Later: TechPresident reports the ratings for the Obama race speech: More than 4million views for the speech or excerpts on YouTube.

One picture…

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By Matt Davies, via Make Them Accountable.