|Today, I read Peter Urban's
editorial on Joe's "wonderful" work after Katrina (with no references or research - simple college level stuff, Peter). I typed a diary here, feeling that only a few would see it, and that I was swimming against the tide.
Thank you, Paul Bass.
Earth To Media: Get A Brain
August 27, 2006
A presidential candidate swept through Connecticut the other day, seeking to build support for 2008. (Never too early!) He didn't make time to meet with editorial boards. He didn't make time to pow-wow with the great pooh-bahs of the water buffalo lodges known as Democratic town committees. There was no slot in his schedule for a press conference with TV and daily newspaper reporters.
The candidate, Democrat John Edwards, did squeeze in one private meeting with perceived powerbrokers. In a Yale medical school cafeteria, Edwards glad-handed, praised and answered questions from Connecticut's local bloggers.
CNN was on the outside looking in - and a reporter from the New Haven Advocate had to sneak in the back door. Why? Because the power is shifting - and the audience is growing.
Meanwhile, the mainstream press and politicians waited in a courtyard outside. Finished with the bloggers, Edwards emerged alongside Democratic Senate candidate Ned Lamont to make a speech at a rally in the courtyard, then scoot away.
This wasn't a scheduling failure. This was deliberate. Edwards was well aware of what happened in Connecticut on Aug. 8. The nation's political establishment got a glimpse of how centers of power are shifting on the ground in election campaigns.
The local and national bloggers were only one of several forces that propelled Lamont to his historic Democratic primary victory over incumbent U.S. Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman. But their contribution - framing issues, drawing thousands of volunteers and donors, organizing public actions, watch-dogging the mainstream media, producing often high-caliber videos that campaigns normally pay consultants dearly for - was undeniable.
At least to Edwards it was.
"It's clear that bloggers played a big role. They've shown how much influence they can have," he observed in a conversation between events. "Influence in a positive way. Bloggers are going to play a big role, not just locally, but nationally.
"It helps democratize the media. It's a way for more voices to be heard. Even the mainstream media now recognize this," he said.
Can you imagine? Interviewing a sunflower? What a crazy thing!
Handed a sunflower named "Lorenzo," Edwards agreed to grant it a quick "interview" at the request of bloggers from the My Left Nutmeg site. Dreadlocked v-logger "CTBlogger" simultaneously worked his still and video cameras as Edwards discussed his presidential ambitions. Accounts of this exclusive press conference appeared on his web site, other Connecticut sites, as well as the national Internet commons known as the Daily Kos.
How many millions saw the diaries posted after the event? Certainly more than read the Connecticut Post.
Paul describes what are the local papers gaining from their endorsements of losing candidates - really nothing more than maintaining the status quo.
The point of editorials isn't to pick winners, but to persuade readers to consider a candidate who best reflects the newspaper's vision. On that score, too, the editorials revealed an irrelevance, a knee-jerk bias to preserving entrenched power: Lieberman was the incumbent; Malloy was favored by party powerbrokers.
One big story in American politics is how the Internet, the decline of old party powerbases, as well as other trends are gradually changing the rules. Power is shifting to real voters and away from consultants, insiders and the kind of campaigning that basically serves as a bipartisan incumbent-protection racket. Not only are hidebound daily newspaper editorial boards missing that trend; they're actively joining the rearguard action against it, perhaps to preserve their own corporate influence, or out of status-quo reflexively pro-business ideological blinders.
Mr. Urban of the Connecticut Post - it might behoove you to learn this lesson and learn it quickly. You may be invited to the next media event, but you will not be taken seriously by either the voters or your readers. Right, Lorenzo?