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American Political Leaders Are Clueless About New Media

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Yes that is a generalization, but I would argue it is generally true. Presidential advisors Karen Hughes and Mark Penn demonstrated it in their keynote talk at BlogWorld last year. Congressman Weiner is learning about the true meaning of transparency right now. Former GOP Congressman Chris Lee learned that photos on Craigslist are not private. The latest evidence is this interview with leading Democrat Congressman Barney Frank in the Atlantic.

In the interview Congressman Frank says he likes to read The Economist, The New York Times, The Hill, Roll Call and Politico as well as books on British history. Then he says this:

I don’t get news on my phone. I don’t use Facebook or Twitter. I want substance. I’m not betting on stocks. I don’t deal in emergencies and I don’t know CPR. There’s enough possibility of misunderstanding as it is without 140 character tweets. Of course, when you’re talking about somebody getting shot, tweets have been good. But generally, I want more than you can get on a phone.

Apparently Congressman Frank is unaware that he can read all of his favorite newspapers, magazines and books on his phone or that he is missing quite a bit of “substance” by limiting himself to outdated forms of media distribution.

Then he says this:

The trouble with new media is the fact that there’s no screen. Anyone can publish anything. We still have the notion that if it’s printed it has some validity.  Previously, you had to convince at least one other person that it was worth printing. Now, anyone can print anything in this medium. In general, there’s a lot more gossip and fragmentation.

Apparently Congressman Frank has never heard of The National Enquirer, The Sun and scores of other gossip oriented newspapers, magazines, TV shows etc. I assume he has forgotten about Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Jack Anderson; whose political gossip segment was a feature on Good Morning America for nine years.

There is no arguing with Congressman Frank’s point that there is more gossip and fragmentation. What Congressman Frank fails to realize is that there is more of every kind of media available. In the same way cable and satelite opened up new distribution channels for radio and TV, New Media has democratized all media.

New Media has given us the most free, open and democratic media in all of human history. That is in direct keeping with American ideals. Our political leaders should be doing everything they can to educate themselves about it, embracing it and advocating for it.

***Update 6.6.11*** Weinergate is getting bigger. And with BlogWorld NYC keynote speaker Andrew Breitbart’ latest post you have to ask is the Blogosphere about to notch another politician resignation in its belt?

 

What Can Senator Joe Manchin Teach Us About Social Media?

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Despite being a political junkie, I am very hesitant to bring up anything related to politics when it comes to BlogWorld. However while geeking out on memeorandum tonight (Techmeme’s sister site for politics) I came across a story that I think emphasizes one of the great opportunities social media brings to all of us.

Senator Manchin took a lot of well deserved heat when he failed to show up for two major controversial votes this past weekend. His initial reply about having a prior commitment (a Christmas party) sounded like the typical weasel politician trying to avoid accountability and allowing himself to agree with whatever the popular position of the time was when the next election rolled around.

Then he did something different. He sent out two press releases declaring his position on each bill. And he gave an interview explaining exactly why he missed these votes (Audio Here)  and here is the story in the local paper including quotes from the interview.

So what can this incident and Senator Manchin’s reaction to it teach us about social media?

Continue Reading

Mark Penn And Karen Hughes To Keynote BlogWorld Expo

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For those of you who don’t know this already. I began this journey that is BlogWorld & New Media Expo as a political blogger. So today’s announcement about Mark Penn and Karen Hughes giving a Keynote Talk at BlogWorld has me all geeked up. From the old School press release:

Mark Penn, CEO Worldwide of Burson-Marsteller and CEO of Penn Schoen Berland, and Karen Hughes, Worldwide Vice Chairman of Burson-Marsteller, will feature a joint keynote presentation on the state of digital communications in politics. Their presentation will take place on Friday, October 15, 2010 at 9:00AM ET at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.

Mr. Penn and Ms. Hughes, the former chief message architects for President Clinton and President Bush respectively, will address results from a research study surrounding the use of social media in the 2010 U.S. House and Senate mid-term races, and present an analysis on emerging digital strategies within the political arena. Mr. Penn and Ms. Hughes will assess how top 2010 Republican and Democratic candidates utilize Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and texting in their campaigns, and how candidates integrate their messaging on their websites and social media platforms.

Having key presidential advisers to the last two sitting Presidents of the United States come and talk to a bunch of bloggers and social media geeks is a pretty big deal if you ask me. Love them or hate them, blogs like Powerline, Daily Kos, Pajamas Media, Talking Points Memo, Huffington Post, Hot Air and Michelle Malkin have changed the rules of American politics.

It was never more evident to me that the old guard of political power players had realized this than at the 2007 Yearly Kos Convention in Chicago. Every Presidential Candidate (including our current President Barack Obama) running for the Democratic nomination was on the stage together addressing a crowd of about 1,500 left leaning political bloggers and activists. The energy for the entire event was high. The bloggers knew they had real power. But I couldn’t help but notice the scattering of suits in the crowd. These were the political operators and you could see them trying to figure out what the hell these bloggers were up to, and how could they possibly direct them into supporting their particular candidate and use them for their advantage.

It was a striking juxtaposition.

This will be very interesting talk for news junkies like me as well as anyone interested the influence of the blogosphere and social media on politics and society as a whole. How are the 2010 mid term candidates using tools like blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube?

How are they planning to utilize bloggers and other social influencers to win their respective elections?

What trends do they see for the 2012 Presidential election?

Do either the Democrats or Republicans have an advantage when it comes to new media?

Is the blogosphere a dangerous wild card for a Senator, Congressmen, or President to play?

The New Media Way Is Better Than The Old Media Way

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The New York Times ran a story yesterday on a new group known as The Coffee Party. What follows is a classic contrast in how old media handles a news story vs. how new media handles a news story. Leave your politics aside for the moment and look at this excerpt from Le-gal In-sur-rec-tion:

Update: Interesting, I received a phone call from Kate Zernike, the author of the NY Times article, who felt that I did not sufficiently credit her article with disclosing Park’s background and motives. Specificially, Zernike pointed out that the Times’ article said the Coffee Party “was formed in reaction to the Tea Party” and offered “an alternative” to the Tea Party. Zernike also felt that the pro-Obama nature of the Coffee Party was adequately disclosed because the article pointed out that one of the organizers in California (not Park) had campaigned for Obama.

I explained that I did not feel that the NY Times article adequately disclosed (i) the depth of the connection to the Obama campaign reflected in Park’s background, or (ii) that the specific purpose of the Coffee Party, as expressed in Park’s Tweets, was to undermine the Tea Party.

I told Ms. Zernike that I would do an update to this post, and I hoped that she would do an update to her article to explain Park’s Obama connection and apparent motivations. Ms. Zernike declined, explaining that she had to limit her article to 700 words.

There are several points here.  First kudos to NYT writer Kate Zernike for even engaging with Mr. Jacobson (Legal Insurrection’s author). That’s the new media way. In times past her article would have received at best heated letters to the editor that would have most likely been ignored.  Unfortunately she chose not to (or is not allowed to by her editors) comment directly at Legal Insurrection. That’s the old media way.

If you choose to read the 60 comments on the post you will see there is a vibrant and quite heated debate about the merits or lack thereof in the original NYT piece (warning lots of comments with adult language). Thats the new media way.

Mr. Jacobson updated his post as soon as he had new information and shared Ms. Zernike’s perspective. That’s the new media way.

Ms. Zernike stated she was unable to update her article due to an arbitrary 700 word limit. Thats the old media way.

Mr. Jacob has no such limitation and I am sure will continue to update his post as more information becomes available including any further replies from Ms. Zernike. That’s the new media way.

Ms. Zernike gathered the facts pertaining to her story and then she and her editors decided what was relevant and she presented a summary of that information. Thats the old media way.

Mr. Jacobson researched her story, and provided his sources right in his post including past Tweets from Annabel Park (the subject of the original article) and YouTube Video that Ms. Park helped to promote online. Mr. Jacobson then offered his conclusions and his transparent views about the Coffee Party and Ms. Zernike’s story. That’s the new media way.

Ms. Zernike of course provided no background on her own inherent views an political leanings coming into the story. Thats the old media way.

The old media way believes professional reporters are able to completely ignore their personal views and “just present the facts”. We all know that’s baloney.

Mememorandum (Techmeme’s sister site focused on politics) then picked up Legal Insurrection’s story as a hot topic in the blogosphere including links to the original NYT article and more than a dozen blogs who were also commenting on the original story and Legal Insurrection’s post. That’s the new media way.

What is the lesson here?

The new media way is the better way and the reason the old media is dying a horrible and painful death.

Any other differences between the new media way and old media way that I left out?

Please leave them below in the comments section.

ps.

That’s the new media way by the way 8).

Army Lifts Social Media Ban

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army-logo Chalk this one up as a victory for the brave men and women around the country that are helping to keep our country completely safe and sound.  Up until this point, due to security concerns and privacy worries by ol’ Uncle Sam, the U.S. Army had blocked the vast majority of all social media and Web 2.0 sites on all of their bases.  That meant, for our soldiers, they had no access to Flickr, Twitter, Facebook, Myspace or Vimeo…the sites that, if we’re honest, steal a great deal of our time on a daily basis.

The good news is that now that the U.S. Army has re-evaluated their stance on it, they’ve decided to lift the social media ban at certain U.S. bases that have most likely passed through the checklists and red tape to make it happen.  According to reports:

“The order was made to “leverage social media sites as a medium to allow soldiers to ‘tell the Army story’ and to facilitate the dissemination of strategic, unclassified information,” the order states. Even before this order, a number of official U.S. Army social media pages were set up on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr, intended to promote soldiers’ stories to civilians…”

Great news for all the men and women that have been wanting to actually continue their online lives while serving our country.  Apparently this order is not going to work on all Army bases, as some have classified information that they can’t risk getting out, but eventually they have plans to allow this type of thing on all bases.  We’ll see when and if that happens, but the bigger news is just that social media has had this kind of impact, on this broad of a scale.  10 years ago, would anyone have believed the U.S. Army would have a Facebook page?  Nope.

White House Dips Into Social Networking Pool

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white-house Looks like the White House is going 21st century, in a very big way.  We all knew during the campaign that Obama was a bit more advanced than any other presidential candidate in history when it came to his embracing and utilizing new technology.  That trend is continuing as the White House made a fairly large announcement recently.

That’s right, the White House has officially announced that they are big-time players in the social networking world, as they now have a blog up on Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter…the big 3.  Pretty much the only question we’re all left wondering is this:  Will the President himself be tweeting?!

Here’s what the White House team had to say about their baptism into social networking:

“Technology has profoundly impacted how — and where — we all consume information and communicate with one another.”

True.  True.  It only took about 2 hours for the Twitter page to notch over 2,000 followers and at the time of this post, they’re over 38,000.  So far their updates have covered everything from swine flu to health care, to tax havens.  If you’re into the comings and goings of the U.S. Government, we suggest following.

The bottom line is, with the White House also maintaining “an active presence on Flickr, Vimeo, YouTube and iTunes…” they’re fully immersed in social media.  The question is, how will the White House respond when negativity starts popping up, after all, the internet is far from a “positive only” place.  How will the White House deal with any and all animosity on their pages?  Will freedom of speech be upheld or will the almighty censorship rear it’s ugly head?  Time will tell.

We Will Miss You Dean Barnett

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I didn’t know Dean Barnett that well. We had only met once in person last year at BlogWorld, had one phone conversation and a few email exchanges. What I do know is that he was a brilliant man and among his many other accomplishments a great blogger, writer,radio host, avid golfer and rabid Red Sox fan.

He was always kind to me and if you read the remembrances on both the left and right side of the political blogosphere you will see this is the kind of person Dean Barnett was. A staunch conservative who definitely fit the description of a Happy Warrior, Dean had many friends an admirers on the left including Andrew Sullivan, and Glenn Greenwald (scroll to the bottom of Greenwald’s post for his comments about Dean). Dean would host Greenwald as a guest on the Hugh Hewitt Show when he was sitting in for Hugh. Here is Dean’s review of one of Greenwald’s most recent book:

I KNOW THIS WON’T endear me to many of my fellow conservatives, but I like Glenn Greenwald. I’ve spoken to him a few times on the radio and have enjoyed our jousts. Mind you, I agree with virtually nothing Greenwald says or writes and recognize his unbecoming fondness for the personal insult, but I consider him a worthy adversary.

Like most things that spring from Glenn Greenwald’s keyboard, Great American Hypocrites is a combination of literate insights, occasional distortions, and forays into ugliness that are difficult to understand given Greenwald’s obvious intelligence. In other words, the book is filled with the Good, the Bad, and the distinctly Greenwald.

Glenn had this to say today when he learned of Barnett’s passing:

UPDATE:  Really sad, horrendous news:  Dean Barnett has died, at the age of 41, of cystic fibrosis.  I wrote about Dean here a couple of weeks ago, in the bottom section of the post.  Here’s a 2006 article by Dean, bravely writing about his battle with that horrific disease.  And here’s a very recent interview he gave about many things, including the times he invited me to appear with him when he guest-hosted The Hugh Hewitt Show.  Condolences to his family and friends.Dean could find common ground and goodness in people with whom he had nothing in common. Dean Barnett made the blogosphere as a whole a better place.

Hugh is remembering his good friend on the radio today. You can listen live on KRLA here and read what Hugh had to say on his blog about Dean here:

My friend and colleague Dean Barnett died today, and the world is a much poorer place for it.  As anyone who listened to him on my radio show or read his work at Soxblog, here or at the Weekly Standard knows, and as everyone who had the great, great pleasure of knowing Dean will attest, Dean’s combination of sparking intelligence and enormous good humor made him one of the most memorable of friends.  What too few people know, though, is what a kind, extraordinarily giving and compassionate man he was.  Dean loved people and he loved this country and threw himself into every cause.

You can tell much about a man by what his adversaries as well as his friends have to say about him when he is gone. By all accounts Dean Barnett was just a decent man.

Please pray for his family and loved ones tonight and join me in mourning the loss of a great blogger.  Thank you for all you gave us and rest in peace Dean Barnett.

More at Memeorandum.

Jim Geraghty remembers Dean Barnett.

Gateway Pundit has a photo of Dean at last year’s BlogWorld. That is exatly how I remember him. Always smiling.

BlogWorld Radio 8.15.08 is under attack!

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Well sort of. Jim like’s to say “we have a very special guest this week” pretty much no matter who our guest is on BlogWorld Radio. And so far, they really all have been special. But tomorrow our guests are special in a different way.

Join us on BlogWorld Radio this Friday August 15th at Noon Pacific Time when our guests will be Andi Hurly the founder and organizer of the Milblogging Conference. Andi’s day job is being an Army wife and full time mom. Oh and she is also the founder of Spouse Buzz a virtual support group for military spouses.

The one and only Greyhawk, Co-founder and publisher of The Mudville Gazette with his wife Mrs. Greyhawk. He has been deployed twice now to Iraq during the current conflict. For those that don’t know Mudville Gazette is the first site you should read in the morning if you want to know what’s happening with our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan or with their loved ones back at home.

And last but certainly not least outstanding Web 2.0 Wartime journalist Bill Roggio will be joining us. Bill is the Managing Editor of The Long War Journal and the president of Public Multimedia Inc., a nonprofit media organization with a mission to provide original and accurate reporting and analysis of the Long War, an Adjunct Fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.

Bill has embedded with the US Marine Corps, the US Army, the Iraqi Army, and Iraqi police in Iraq in 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008, and with the Canadian Army in Afghanistan in 2006. Bill served as a signalman and infantryman in the US Army and the New Jersey National Guard from 1991 to 1997. Bill can be reached at billroggio@gmail.com.

Join us tomorrow for this very special edition of BlogWorld Radio. Be sure to call in and thank our guests for their service, and the amazing things they do with their blogs.

Bloggers Should Not Take Free Speech For Granted

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There are few things people agree on in the Blogosphere. In fact the debate and discourse are arguably the most compelling thing about the Blogosphere. Anyone can say just about anything they want and they can say it without fear of prosecution and in most cases for free.

Well not everyone. Per the BBC Today:

More bloggers than ever face arrest for exposing human rights abuses or criticising governments, says a report.

In 2007 three times as many people were arrested for blogging about political issues than in 2006, it revealed.

More than half of all the arrests since 2003 have been made in China, Egypt and Iran, said the report.

It goes on:

Arrested bloggers exposed corruption in government, abuse of human rights or suppression of protests. They criticised public policies and took political figures to task.

More than half of all the arrests since 2003 have been made in China, Egypt and Iran, said the report.

For instance, it said the Committee to Protect Bloggers has published information about 344 people arrested in Burma – many of whom are thought to be be bloggers – but the WIA could not verify all the reports.

It also noted that many nations, perhaps as many as 30, imposed technological restrictions on what people can do online. In nations such as China this made it difficult for people to use a blog as a means of protest.

This report doesn’t mention even mention the severe free speech restrictions in Canada and most of Western Europe.  The next time you find yourself ranting about your congressman, senator, or local mayor; The next time you do a Google search for “human rights abuses in China” thank your lucky stars that you are free to do so.

More than that be mindful of your responsibility to maintain those freedoms for all of us and use a power that we as citizens have never had before in all of human history to help spread these freedoms to bloggers in countries like China, Burma, Iran, and Egypt.

 

Blogs Receive More Clout Than Ever in 2008 Presidential Campaign

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Presidential candidates began courting political bloggers before the 2008 nomination race even got started. Virtually every candidate hired bloggers on staff. Some successfully and some not so much. Many set up conference calls with bloggers (McCain has excelled here). Both the RNC and DNC are allowing bloggers access to the show floor during their national conventions.

For those who are able to navigate the many minefields of the Blogosphere these efforts result in millions in online donations and of course turning voters out to the polls and caucuses.

Arguably the two candidates most attuned to the Blogosphere during this presidential campaign were presumptive nominees John McCain and Barak Obama (notice the video?). Obama has certainly benefited the most from social media having raised $45 million dollars online in one month!. He has more followers on Twitter (31,000+) than anyone including Bloggerati Rock Stars like Robert Scoble and Jason Calacanis. Mommie and Techy bloggers regularly tweet and post on his behalf. Obama has near 850,000 members on his Facebook fan site and a huge presence on MySpace (though many of those friends may not be old enough to vote). Who can forget the Viral Videos from Obama Girl (nine million views!); which had more than a small part in raising national awareness and elevating Obama’s candidacy to legitimate contender status.

McCain on the other hand has a distinguished military career, has made many trips to Iraq and constantly praises the men and women serving in our armed forces earning him the respect of Milbloggers.

Now the McCain campaign in following with it’s overall strategy of reaching out to voters beyond his base is reaching out to left leaning blogs and even non-political blogs. Here is an excerpt from a Washington Times article on Friday.

Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign is trying to tap a new audience of potential voters by taking his campaign message straight to liberal and nonpolitical issues-based blogs, which reach millions of readers but don’t often delve into conservative politics.

The strategy was in full swing yesterday when Mr. McCain invited non-conservative bloggers to join his regular blogger conference call, just hours after he delivered a major speech previewing his war strategy and other priorities for a first presidential term.

These candidates are both going to continue to seek the support of the Blogosphere and their tens of millions of readers. They are wise to do so. Bloggers and their readers vote. For the candidate that does it right, it just might mean the difference between winning and losing the Presidency.

PS. A couple of months ago I was joking with someone that Obama might be the first President to Tweet the State of the Union Address. I might not have been that far off.

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