Micah Sifry of the techPresident blog recounts an interesting panel on how internet media is changing political journalism. I want to specifically focus on these comments…
So Hillary Clinton has called her campaign a conversation. Can a
campaign be one? Or are they necessarily propagandistic, getting a
message out? Even on the Dean blog that was what it was about.
I think it’s more like a conversation that you have at a job
interview, not the kind that you have over a beer. I’m skeptical of
that. I’d love people sitting there answering straight questions
completely honestly. We go through this with each cycle, that we think
we are going to find out who these people really are, and then by
election day we say, why haven’t we talked about the issues? I think
the key thing in this campaign is going to be how do these people react
to being covered all the time.
There’s a problem with this question, that we’re going to find out
who these people really are. I think that is a vain hope. We should
change that to, let’s force these people to be who they really are in
public. Instead of trying to strip away a false facade. One thing that
could change is this: in every campaign the candidate and his advisers
decide things that they don’t want to talk about. But these may be
things that the public wants to know about. We can try to get them to
talk about those things. We can try to get them to be realer in that
sense, in trying to get them to address the topics that people want to
The speakers go on to entitle this concept of a candidate being "real" in front of the media and general public as "authenticity". I would like to explore authenticity on the side of the candidate. As Jarvis mentioned, Hillary Clinton has labeled her campaign as a "conversation". In many, many of her video conversations to the public she encourages the public to comment, argue, and to join the conversation. Is she authentic in requesting such feedback? Probably not. She is gunning for the highest political position in the entire country, and a top spot with the influencers of the western hemisphere. Propaganda is the name of the game. And she doesn’t play it all that well. By asking us, ordinary citizens, to talk with her she expects us to give her the answers. I would urge candidates to, rather than being "authentic" to be honest in how they plan on running this country. That is what matters.
The web brings a new atmosphere to campaigning such that the candidate is always being recorded and observed. The campaigns know this and now are able to control every outlet of information. Look at Obama, each of his videos show an energized and charismatic person with incredible enthusiasm and heart. In effect, authentic. But authenticity may appeal to some, what about others who wish to hear how this enthusiastic person will run a country? Indeed this race has gotten really hot really quick. And usually we begin asking issue questions very near the end of the race. With the internet asking all types of questions from all types of angles, what will the end of the race look like? Will we have run out of relevant questions to ask, will we have had our fill of information?
Now Giuliani is slowly getting into the web race. However, his ride is a slow and steady one atop a horse called "I was the hero of 9/11". His media coverage is less web-tastic than the potential democrat candidates but then again, strives within new york. The giuliani website is lacking, what many other candidates have adopted as prime media coverage and message dispersion, video. Albeit the website itself is lackluster at best. However I am not writing to quarrel with the design of candidate’s websites. This is to bring to light what we, as citizens and public media, understand as to the effects of web media on campaigns.
Summary: Web media is inevitable and inescapable. The public eye is always watching. Campaigns understand this and have adapted to control every outlet of information. We can draw new information from them by being persistent and unyielding in our coverage. We can demand honesty to skills less authenticity of person. The facade is there and we know it. Now tell us what we want to hear, be it through a facade or not.