May 17, 2007

ONA Seminar I: How Campaigns And The Media Interact On The Web

The first seminar here at the Online News Association conference will explore the impact of online media for political campaigns. The panelists are Jim Brady from the Washington Post, Brian Fraley, and Ted Osthelder, consultants for the Republican and Democratic parties.

We're talking about the 24-hour news cycle and the pressure to have information at all times to feed the beast. It also amplifies mistakes and creates more opportunity for them. It requires more resources allocated to media and monitoring the blogs as well as the major news organizations. It generates enormous resource allocation issues.

Jim Brady notes that Washington Post came under a lot of pressure from its readership to have continually new content on their site. That pressure had to come from the competition from blogs, something that he didn't mention, but the WaPo reacted by expanding their offerings. Chris Cilizza's The Fix was a direct result of that editorial decision, and they have also expanded their on-line chats.

Brian mentions that campaigns now have the challenge of being overwhelmed by credentialed media, after having made the decision to credential bloggers. He tells an anecdote of an event where TV cameras could not get squeezed into the media area because of the presence of so many bloggers.

Brady says the relationship between the traditional media, campaigns, and "grassroots media" -- bloggers, YouTubers, etc. He wonders if "macaca" now has put every politician on the defensive? They will be less likely to be spontaneous and to work in smaller venues, opting for fewer and more large-scale appearances to minimize the potential for damage.

YouTube will impact the dynamic of traditional campaigning, says Ted Osterheider. Candidates used to deliver the same speech six times a day for weeks in order to get it out to everyone. Now, with viral media, that speech gets very dated very quickly, forcing campaigns to switch it up more frequently. That creates more opportunity for macaca moments.

The Fred Thompson response to Michael Moore sparked an interesting discussion. Brian guessed that it cost $100, but had more impact than millions of dollars in traditional campaigning. He then made a strange assumption that campaigns wouldn't follow that example by spending a major portion of cash on YouTubes and the like. That touched off a debate about why they wouldn't, and Brian said that "you can't ignore the traditional media". True enough, but there's nothing to keep them from doing both.

Brian mentions that campaigns use bloggers to get around the gatekeepers of the media. Ted says they use bloggers as a test group. Both are acknowledging that campaigns float things in the blogosphere, which should concern bloggers. Both also acknowledge that risks exists for the campaigns using these techniques, because one screw-up will live forever on the Internet. Ted also warns campaigns that they have as much to fear from New Media as Traditional Media.

Sean Hackbarth from The American Mind notes that he gets little more than press releases with all of this New Media access, and says that he gets treated no better than reporters. I'm sitting with a few reporters (Scott Bauer of the AP among them), and they all rolled their eyes at that statement. Last year, we complained that we didn't get the same treatment as reporters. His point, though, was that the campaigns don't really put a lot of effort into cultivating bloggers, and the panel says that bloggers need to do their own cultivating, too.

"Life's tough -- get a helmet."

Jim Brady also makes a good point about evaluating the sources, and Ted mentions a meritocracy at work. The blogosphere has matured as a market, and the campaigns and the media understand who the players are and tailor their response accordingly.


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Comments (3)

Posted by TomB | May 17, 2007 10:20 AM

MSM having more open "Discussion Groups"?? To what the world has come to?
I tried a few times to add a comment to some of the MSM "discussion forums", but never made it past the censor. What they really needed was a chorus of parrots, patting themselves on the backs.

Posted by Carol Herman | May 17, 2007 12:21 PM

It comes fast; but it also goes away quicker.

While what seems to be "parity" ... is that you have official GOP candidates. And, Fred Thompson. And, for "about $100" Fred Thompson knoced Michael Moore's challange out of the ball park.

What's ahead? Ya know, the Moore movie, Sicko, evenutally lands, here. What happens when it opens? Will Fred's piece keep making re-runs?

Off to the side, Jerry Seinfeld's movie, BEE, opened at Cannes.

And, in the world of movie openings, coming to America, the future is going to be picked by the audiences that go into movie theaters.

I have a feeling that two things happened during the week. ONE, Guiliani got vast coverage out of his rebuff to Ron Paul's jackass commentary. (Which also still sees some life on the Net. Because? Paul raised the spector, of "what would we do if it was China, building bases in Mexico." To answer that? Not Guiliani. But others. John Kennedy blew up buildings in Moscow. And, Clinton blew up a Chinese Embassy. Of course, he said "oops." While no "oops" expressions have come from Ron Paul.) But at the next debate, where do you think the eyes will fall?

Remember this. Barnum knew he made more money inside his circus when he added the clowns.

Now, I don't go to watch the clowns. I do remember, as a kid, seeing the three rings filling up. And, then? The poster advertising the show, had the face of the clown painted on it.

Up ahead? There will be new things to watch. And, an accummulation of things, past.

Fred Thompson is getting MORE looks these days as a fella "just like Reagan." And, he did that with an expense of about a hundred dollars. (This also advertises that he's frugal.)

The other thing? Bush is in meltdown. IF Reagan were really IN the White House, still, I doubt if anyone dared walked on his spot on the stage. He just owned the limelight.

(Sort'a like Katherine Hepburn. Who took to doing Shakespearian theater. She was more than 50 years old. And, one wonk observed, when she was on stage, no one watched anybody else. Meaning? Another actor could be speak lines. Hepburn was just standing there. And, no one in the audience could take their eyes off of her.)

Politics is a lot like that. A national reputation is built when you can hold the attention of others; whether you're speaking. Or not.

While the stage moves world events onto it. And, some of the plans made by mice and men, often go awry.

Me? My hat's off to Olmert, who has been showing true survivor skills, without letting the cat out of the bag. (He can't. Because that would mean pointing a finger at Bush's White House.) Lots of people are very careful not to do that. And, sometimes, I wonder why?

Posted by Carol Herman | May 17, 2007 12:27 PM

"Get a helmet?

You mean, there's a fire sale going on with the sale of GREEN HELMETS? Used only by one man. In Lebanon. Where he commanded the world stage with made up photos. What a bargain.