Friday, April 13, 2007

Journalists being left out?

Starting this week, presidential candidates will have the chance to tell their story on YouTube. With so many Web sites and ways now for politicians to get their voice heard without any editorial obstacles, where the does the news media come in?

Now that anyone can get face time on their own on Web sites such as YouTube, the role of journalists are continuing to change (and diminish?). An AP article reported that starting Wednesday, candidates from both parties will take turns posting videos on YouTube's News and Politics site.

Previously, despite candidates' "hatred" for the press, they needed the media. Getting a sound bite on the evening news was a chance to get people to listen to them and an opportunity to promote their new campagin. Now they need no help from the media. They can shoot video whenever and wherever and simply upload their video. This new way of reaching voters in a personal and, literally, "in your face" way makes it even more necessary for journalists to do their job as watchdogs.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney will be the first one to post a video. This new segment is branch of YouTube's "You Choose '08" initiative. Journalists used to be the one presenting both sides of a political race and letting the viewer to decide on their own-- now the politicians themselves are directly asking people to choose his or her favorite candidate.

"Interactivity is what really fuels the engine on YouTube and candidates and users were striving for ways to communicate with each other," said Steve Grove, head of news and politics for YouTube, to AP.

I agree with what Grove is saying because this would get more young people to care about politics and about the issues. This YouTube site also lets citizens to send in their own videos in response to the candidates'. The article even quotes Romney saying, "I'll do my best to watch as many as I can and respond to them." This new interactivity however seems to be happening more and more without reporters. To those in jouranalism, it feels like our roles are being stepped on.

On the other hand, will this actually educate Americans about their politicians?

Media has been criticized for covering the politics as a horse race and concentrating on the numbers more than the issues. But in typical news segment, there's only so much time to cover all the platforms. So Americans could actually getting more substance if they take the time to listen to what all the candidates have to say.

Interestingly each year, the race to the White House seems to always be affected by technology and the use of media. " Many view these types of videos produced by non-journalists (including politicians) as "citizen journalism", but I think it's unfair to call this journalism. I would like to think that it takes more to being a reporter than a click of a cell-phone or spouting off in a blog.

Ultimately it doesn't really matter what buzz word you use to explain this YouTube behavior-- it'll still be interesting to see how technology and uploading video onto media sites play into the upcoming election.


At Saturday, April 14, 2007, Blogger MW said...

It'll be interesting to see how this plays out. The cynic in me says most people won't be impressed (like watching any other campaign commercial, except on YouTube).

On the other hand, I wonder if these videos will allow users to post comments. If so and the public discourse resembles the kind of debates you see on political blogs, it would certainly water down YouTube's ambitions for this concept.

At Sunday, April 15, 2007, Blogger MK said...

If this YouTube campaign really gets going and gets popular, I think it could be revolutionary for political advertising. By bypassing the traditional media, candidates can speak directly to voters (especially young voters) and they won't need to buy infomercial airtime like Ross Perot. We hear constantly that things are moving to the Web and if candidates can get their message up on YouTube, they will beat the media (online or otherwise) at their own game. The difficult part will be policiing real content from candidates and critical videos from users. This type of video posting could even help "minor" candidates - those not seen often in traditional media - a chance to build some momentum and raise their status.

At Sunday, April 15, 2007, Blogger GN said...

I've several observations on this phenomenon.

1- The thing about these YouTube videos is that the user is in control, so it's very likely that users will seek out messages that appeal to their political views - unless the video is so outrageously funny or clever that it transcends politics.

(On television, viewers can of course switch the channel, but as we mentioned in class, tv has a much "tighter grip" on viewers who are probably sitting passively on their couch.)

2- I don't subscribe to the notion that only journalists are entitled to practice, well, journalism. There is no license in our profession. So when you said our role is being stepped on, I feel that we need to look at the root of the problem. I think it is as journalists, we need to continously reinvent ourselves to become relevant once again, in this new media world.

3- I think Steve Grove is right on the money when he talks about interactivity. I believe that being able to interact with your audience will make your product so much better and more relevant. What we see with webcasting, citizen journalism, blogs, etc., all point to that direction. The audience seems tired of the old paternalistic mode of journalism and wants a two-way conversation.

At Sunday, April 15, 2007, Blogger LL said...

Very interesting point. BUT, I wonder if potential voters turn to YouTube and other websites enough for candidates to turn away from traditional media. I know that the younger generation (our gen.) looks at YouTube and various websites, but my parents don't. I think that presidential candidates and the like still need the least for now.


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