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Online Media Reshapes Politics  

2007-07-25 14:57:21|  分类: 默认分类 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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Online Media Reshapes Politics - liblog - Liblog 第九传媒

Presidential hopefuls
Democratic presidential hopefuls stand together before the start ofthe debate sponsored by CNN, YouTube and Google at The Citadelmilitary college in Charleston, S.C., on July 23.



It was a bad night for news anchors andWashington bureau chiefs, the traditional interrogators of would-beholders of American high office.

The format of Monday's Democratic presidential debate, withquestions asked via online video, had all the potential to be anempty-headed stunt, politics scrambling for a perch on the YouTubebandwagon.

But instead of being this campaign season's version of a candidateplaying saxophone on a talk show, the few dozen amateur questionsthat co-sponsor CNN selected from among almost 3,000 posted toYouTube led to a relatively lively and informative two hours. Theinaugural effort to harness the wide net of the Web to craftquestions for would-be presidents offered further demonstration ofthe Internet's rapid ascension to a place of prominence in Americanpolitics.

Yes, there was a question posed by a snowman(about global warming), one asked by Internet comedians posing asrednecks (about whether all the attention paid to Al Gore hurts theannounced candidates' feelings) and one posited in the form of aheavy-metal song (about No Child Left Behind, which, come to thinkof it, could be the name of a heavy-metal band).

But while this new format was at times unconventional, it made forvigorous conversation, which is probably a better hope than genuinedebate among a field of eight, more than 15 months prior toElection Day. It never got silly, and it was occasionallysurprising in ways some of the previous debates have notbeen.

A questioner from Michigan, shot in shadow, asked whether thecandidates intended to take away his baby, and when he pulled the"baby" into frame, it appeared to be an assault rifle.

"If that's his baby, he needs help," said Delaware Sen. JosephBiden.

Part of the power of the event, held at The Citadel in SouthCarolina and telecast on CNN, was, of course, the novelty of it.It's an open question whether the next CNN-YouTube debate, amongRepublicans on Sept. 17, or any similar one that gets scheduledafter that, will pack the same punch. You've seen one folk singerin his back yard complaining in verse about high taxes, you've seen'em all.

Part of the success was due to the moderator, CNN anchor AndersonCooper. Despite former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel's grumblings to thecontrary, Cooper was nimble as a traffic cop.

But the larger portion of the debate's success was due to itallowing ordinary Americans to reclaim their own anecdotes, takingthem out of the massaging and sometimes transfiguring hands of thecandidates. Questioners framed their stories in the way mostmeaningful to them, whether it was the bald woman hoping to be abreast-cancer survivor or the mother of a son deployed in Iraqwondering what the future holds.

In this regard, CNN deserves credit, too, for choosing questionsmore in the spirit of YouTube than of conventional campaigncoverage. Many bloggers and other observers feared a "wonking down"of the proceedings when they learned that the debate questionswould be picked not by the YouTube user community, but by CNNitself.

But while CNN's question choices weren't always the very sharpest-- there were dozens of better-worded questions from atheists thanthe one the news channel picked -- they didn't allow YouTube usersto game the system, either. The network rightly ignored all thequestions posed by children acting as adult mouthpieces, and itdidn't seem, at first glance, to have selected any that were madeby special-interest groups.

To be sure, CNN made mistakes. It plastered its logo so heavily onthe debate stage and screen that you might have thought you were ina branding meeting.

Most egregiously, it hid too many of the videos from viewers. CNNnever put the YouTube questions full-screen, instead showing onlythe in-auditorium screen that was playing the videos. The effectwas to render much worse the amateur video quality that the networkpresumably feared. Viewers couldn't see what many of thequestioners looked like and, in many cases, had to struggle to makeout the text that so many of the videos employed.

Millions of Americans daily go to YouTube not for thecinematography but for the content. These questions had strongcontent, but CNN, imposing old-media standards, stole some of itspower.

But, really, who needs CNN? People wanting to see the questions infull screen, paired up with the candidates' answers, will, ofcourse, be able to go to YouTube for that.

- - -

From Anne Laird of Pennsylvania: "My name is Anne, and I work at aPlanned Parenthood in Pennsylvania. My question is, we here atPlanned Parenthood support comprehensive sex education and I'd liketo know if any of you as candidates have talked to your childrenabout sex and used medically accurate and age-appropriateinformation?" From Gary Berry: "Dear presidential candidates, seethose three flags over my shoulder? They covered the coffins of mygrandfather, my father and my oldest son. Someday, mine will jointhem. I do not want to see my youngest sons join them. I have twoquestions. By what date after Jan. 21, 2009, will all U.S. troopsbe out of Iraq? And how many family members do you have serving inuniform?" "I'm Gabriel. I'm Tuen-Lin. And I'm Connie, from arefugee camp near Darfur. Before you answer this question, imagineyourself the parent of one of these children. What action do youcommit to that will get these children back home to a safe Darfurand not letting it be yet another empty promise?" "Hey, there, myname's Jackie Broyles. And I'm Dunlap. We're from Red State Update.Murfreesboro, Tenn. This here question's for all you candidates.Mainstream media seems awfully interested in old Al Gore thesedays. Is he losing weight? What's it say in his book? Is he stillworried about all the ice? They interpret all these as signs thathe may or may not run. They really want to know if Al Gore's goingto run again. Yes. Well, what we want to know is does that hurty'all?s feelings?" "I'm Rev. Reggie Longcrier. I'm the pastor ofExodus Mission and Outreach Church in Hickory, N.C. Sen. Edwardssaid his opposition to gay marriage is influenced by his SouthernBaptist background. Most Americans agree it was wrong andunconstitutional to use religion to justify slavery, segregation,and denying women the right to vote. So why is it still acceptableto use religion to deny gay Americans their full and equal rights?"----------


 
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