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July 30, 2007 | by  | in Games | [ssba]

The CNN/Youtube Debates and

Last week political, television and Internet history was made. Often history has been made through each of those mediums, but rarely through all three at the same time.

CNN and YouTube teamed up to bring a user generated question and answer forum in South Carolina for the current democratic presidential candidates. There was minimal filtering as all questions were sent in by voters at home via YouTube. The Republicans are not getting let off either from this new cyberspace town hall political venue, as their candidates will participate in the second CNN-YouTube debate in Florida on September 17.

In it’s short history YouTube has already had great impact on US politics. Last year during the Congressional elections a video of then Virginia Republican Senator George Allen delivering the rare racial slur of ‘macaca’ at a public meeting spread like wild fire via YouTube. As a result of this political YouTube blockbuster Allen then went on to lose his seat to Democrat Jim Webb by just a few thousand votes and helped give the Democrats a one seat Senate majority.

This incident highlighted the impact of so called Web 2.0 on politics and gave YouTube a newfound reputation as a medium to be taken seriously by the political heavy weights. As CNN Political Editor Mark Preston has commented, “if not for YouTube, Allen would most likely be one of the front-runners today for the GOP presidential nomination.”

Already the current presidential candidates have felt the wrath of YouTube. Republican favourite Senator John McCain had a YouTube moment himself in April when he joked to a friendly crowd in South Carolina, “remember that old Beach Boys song, bomb Iran. Bomb. Bomb. Bomb.” His comments were played over and over again on YouTube and soon picked up by the mainstream media.

Luckily Democrat presidential hopeful Joe Binden this time didn’t repeat a comment that did the YouTube rounds last year,”you cannot go to a 7-Eleven or a Dunkin’ Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent. I’m not joking.”

So how did the candidates go? Well if you weren’t connected to YouTube or watching CNN you can visit YouTube and go to their CitizenTube area or visit the CNN website – – to find out.

As is typical of the internet CNN went overboard and even set up the adjunct i-report to their web site where viewers during and after the debates were able to blog, email, send JPEG’s and video reponses, and some of the videos were selected as part of CNN’s post-debate coverage! This is a trend of the Internet where information saturation has become the norm.

What does the CNN/YouTube debates mean and what relevance does it have for us in the New Zealand media? Well it means that every television network and political party in the world will be jumping on the bandwagon of this new media participatory medium.

Salient magazine will be among the first media outlets in New Zealand to utilise the interactivity of what CNN and YouTube have achieved here. In the upcoming VUWSA elections later in the year the candidates for all of the positions will be invited to post a video manifesto of up to two minutes in length. It will be linked to Salient TV on when the links to YouTube come up you will be able to post video responses to those candidates…

Just remember we were there first, the 2007 VUWSA elections will be the first election in New Zealand’s history where all of the candidates have full video manifesto opportunities in a new media platform.

Just as when the National party loosely borrowed from Jib Jab’s “This Land” Bush and Kerry parody with their Taxathon political broadcast in the 2005 general election expect to see the big parties the rest of the media imitate and follow in Salient’s footsteps in next year’s election.

YouTube Video of the Week:

CNN YouTube Debate Question: Mike Gravel

The internet moves so fast that even before the CNN/YouTube debates there were already parody questions. Silent yokel Mike Gravel has a lot of questions for the Democratic presidential candidates.


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