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February 15, 2008

Power Reading: A Final Note

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December 7, 2007

New Media, Political Discourse, and the 2008 Elections

(Photo by Robin Holland)

In her conversation with Bill Moyers this week, Kathleen Hall Jamieson has this to say about some of the impact of the Internet on the political process:

"There’s more information available than there ever has been, and it’s more easily retrievable. So we can, within minutes, locate candidates’ issue positions, contrast them to other positions, search news interviews with the candidates where they’re held accountable for discrepancies between past and current positions… And you can hear in the candidates’ own voices their arguments for those issue positions, sometimes at great length – greater than you’re going to find in ads or greater than you’re going to find in news."

And new media is having other effects as well. Barack Obama has a formidable presence on Facebook, including one group with more than 400,000 members - while the largest opposing Hillary Clinton has more than 600,000. And in a development that stunned many analysts, Ron Paul used the Internet to raise more than $4 million in a single day despite minimal coverage from the mainstream media. In fact, this week a new-media driven grassroots movement for Dr. Paul announced that it has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to launch a blimp in hopes of garnering media attention.

What do you think?

  • How is new media impacting the 2008 Presidential race?

  • Will Internet activism be an effective way to marshal votes in primaries and elections?

  • Is new media a net positive or negative for the nation’s political discourse?

  • April 27, 2007

    "Open-Source Journalism"

    Back in 1999, Salon columnist Andrew Leonard coined the term, "Open-Source Journalism" while describing a story where a writer for JANE'S submitted an article for critique prior to publication to "Slashdot," after which readers "sliced and diced the story into tiny pieces," to such degree that an editor at the magazine later announced that the article would not be published after all. Leonard poses the question:

    Will better journalism ensue if more reporters and editors beta test their own work? Hard to say — in the deadline-crazed world of technology journalism, there's often hardly enough time to get a story properly copy edited and proofed, let alone reviewed by hundreds of frothing critics. Still, the principle is worth taking a look at. There's an immense amount of expertise on the Net — sites like Slashdot are pioneering new territory as they facilitate access to that knowledge, to the great and last benefit of all.

    The tremendous growth in readership of political blogs in the last five years, such as Josh Marshall's Talkingpontsmemo, which receives close to a million visitors a month, has put this concept to test outside just the technology news arena. As Marshall explains in a blog post from April 3, 2005:

    "It would have been impossible for me, for instance, to have written most of what I've written on Social Security over the last few months if I didn't have literally thousands of people reading their local papers and letting me know what they're seeing or reporting back from townhall meetings or giving me the heads up on things that are about to break on the hill. That's not a replacement for journalism; it's different. But it's potentially very powerful."

    What do you think?

    Have blogs and the Internet in general strengthened or weakened the craft of journalism?

    A Companion Blog to Bill Moyers Journal

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