Archive for politics
I have a piece up at Politics Daily on Helen Thomas, published yesterday shortly after Helen’s retirement was announced. Yes, I know her remarks were offensive and antisemitic and I don’t defend them. But I don’t think she deserved to be forced into retirement for speaking her opinion when her job is to be an opinion columnist. She issued an apology, as most opinion columnists do when they say something stupid. If you’re interested, the full piece is here (my first piece in Politics Daily!).
March 24th, 2010 • politics, social media
Tags: barack obama, Flickr, health care, health care bill signing, Health Care Reform, Macon Phillips, Nancy Pelosi, new media, Robert Gibbs, Robert Gibbs Twitter, twitter, White House, white house flickr, White House New Media
Originally published at Mediaite.
In case you missed it yesterday, the White House released a new album of Flickr photos of the last year in health reform that has been burning up the internet. My Twitter feed today has been filled with people ooh-ing and aah-ing over the photos.
White House photographer Pete Souza captures a glimpse of behind-closed-doors moments at the White House from this past week and the past year as the White House worked to pass the health care bill — and they are, well, heartwarming. We see Hillary Clinton hugging President Obama; White House staffers cheering, applauding, and hugging as they watched Congress vote on the bill late Sunday night; Obama fist-bumping a young doctor who grins ear-to-ear; Nancy Pelosi holding her grandson and grinning next to Obama a day before the historic House vote.
Flickr is not a new tool; people have been using it to share their important moments with friends and family for years. But the Obama White House is the first White House to use Flickr to share their photos and are publicly documenting private moments that, until now, had remained hidden from the American people.
On another note, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs also recently got on Twitter and though he started off slow, he has adjusted to the medium pretty quickly. This morning he cracked jokes with the rest of the Twitterverse, telling his followers that this video of a misguided White House staffer who bears a resemblance to Gibbs was most definitely not him. And then, perhaps most notably, after the historic bill-signing ceremony today, Gibbs responded to Vice President Biden’s earlier f-bomb in his excitement over the health care bill with a tweet remarking “Yes, Mr. Vice President, you’re right…”
Read the rest here.
originally published at Mediaite.
Here in the snow-submerged city of Washington, DC, the few people that have been able to dig themselves out from under four feet of snow have been feverishly keeping America stocked with more 2010 campaign coverage than ever.
In the past couple of weeks, as the nation was riveted by primaries in Massachusetts and Illinois, mainstream media and the blogosphere have begun the race to ramp up their 2010 coverage. The New York Times, Politico, and Talking Points Memo are just a few of the media outlets that have stepped up their game in 2010 coverage recently. One wonders if, given the fact that we’re still nine months away from the general election, we all might reaching new heights of campaign obsession.
On February 1, just in time for the Illinois primaries, Politico launched its new 2010 Campaigns page, conveniently located at politico.com/2010. The page is boasting “Full 2010 Election Coverage and Political News” and is like porn for the political junkie. Features include: daily “Morning Score” email updates, maps and calendars encompassing every House, Senate, and gubernatorial seat up for grabs, a Polling Center featuring daily updates on the latest polls on nearly every 2010 midterm race, an aggregated Twitter feed of Politico’s reporters, and in-depth analysis on “races to watch.”
The Caucus, the political blog over at the NYT, also announced yesterday their plans to intensively track the 2010 campaigns over the next nine months, over at elections.nytimes.com/2010. The most prominent feature of this is a set of interactive maps of every House and Senate race in the country and a handy primary calendar.
Talking Points Memo also debuted yesterday their new Polltracker (beta!), which aggregates all the latest polling data from around the country, and even allows the truly dedicated the option of receiving a constant live feed of poll results via Twitter. Of course, no news site is complete without a Twitter account now, since that’s where all the breaking news happens!
The Electoral Map, a political geography blog, is one of the many blogosphere voices ramping up their 2010 coverage as well. TEM blogger Patrick Ottenhoff has been adding additional frequent posts on 2010 coverage, and supplementing it with a Flickr gallery of maps, a Twitter feed of breaking news and updates, and weekly posts on the state of the midterm campaigns.
In DC this is standard during an election year, and I admit I’ve been glued to 2010 coverage myself ever since the Coakley-Brown election started heating up. But is coverage maybe reaching obsessive levels? Why do I feel like a crack addict, going from one primary race to the next? Is there ever such a thing as too much up-and-down election coverage? I’m a true election nerd, but even I feel that election burnout may be looming in the future for some.
Most of all, I worry that the real policy issues of our time – jobs, the recession, two wars, and oh, yeah, that healthcare bill! – are being pushed to the backburner in favor of our collective obsession over the latest campaign gaffe. But if we’re all contributing to it, I don’t see this question being answered anytime soon.
In the meantime, there’s a new WaPo poll out today. You’re welcome.
“Since Sunday shows never really appealed to 20-year-olds, Thompson thinks that trying to skew younger or add new technology and graphics isn’t likely to work. “Even before cable and the Internet, you wouldn’t have gotten younger viewers,” Thompson said.”
— from “Will the Sunday shows ever change?” Politico, January 9, 2010.
A debate has been raging online about the Sunday morning political talk shows, one of the venerated old institutions in American political discourse. It was started by Jay Rosen of NYU, who tweeted that maybe Sunday talk shows should fact check everything their guests say on Sundays and run it online every Wednesday.
Today, Politico’s Michael Calderone ran a thoughtful piece on whether Sunday shows will ever change, including commentary from several media personalities. They all agreed on one thing: the Sunday show format has changed very little over the years, and has done almost nothing to adapt to the new media age that we now live in. And as such, their audience is shrinking. Their guests are largely older white males and Washington insiders, their show formats haven’t changed since they were first started, and they rarely focus on issues that most Americans care about. They’re Beltway shows that appeal only to Beltway audiences.
What troubled me the most was a quote in Calderone’s piece from Robert Thompson, a professor at Syracuse, who argued that the case for modernizing Sunday shows wasn’t that relevant because young people wouldn’t care enough to watch the shows anyway.
I stopped reading right there. I am 21 years old and have been watching Sunday talk shows for as long as I can remember, thanks to a very politically active father. And yeah, that puts me in that tiny category of political junkies who will watch Sunday shows no matter what. But as a 21-year-old I resent having my entire generation casually brushed off as uninterested in Sunday morning talk shows. Perhaps my cohorts would tune in every Sunday if they felt like these shows catered to them and spoke on the issues they care about. We are a very politically active generation, and we proved that in the 2008 election. So it’s not that we’re not interested – the problem is that the networks are failing to adapt and provide programming that appeals to and informs the masses.
I fully believe that the Sunday morning talk shows need a new media makeover, and I have a handful of ideas for how they can do so. I admit that I know absolutely nothing about what goes into the making of a political talk show. But what I do know is that my generation wants transparency, participation, and engagement in their political process – and their news. So here are my suggestions on how the Sunday shows might undertake a new media makeover that could finally usher them into the year 2010:
Take Questions From Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube
We may be living in the YouTube age, but from the look of most Sunday shows you’d never know it. Remember the 2008 presidential election debates, where CNN and YouTube asked citizens to submit questions to ask of the candidates, and then featured selected video questions during the debate? Would it kill us to allow citizens to submit questions to the newsmakers and politicians on Meet The Press, Face The Nation, and This Week? Whether it’s via Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube videos, allowing citizens to ask questions would give them a connection to the shows, engage them, and allow them to play a role in setting the news agenda. And talk show hosts like David Gregory and Bob Schieffer should help facilitate that citizen-politician connection. Although David Gregory, Bob Schieffer, and George Stephanopoulos all have Twitter accounts, their level of engagement with fans is very low. Schieffer and Stephanopoulos’s Twitter accounts aren’t even really them, but are merely RSS feeds of updates from their websites.
And while we’re on the subject, the only Sunday show with a Facebook page and Twitter account is Meet The Press. And even then, their Facebook and Twitter are both used as one-way, broadcast mediums only. The MTP Facebook page is used solely to push out promotional content for each week’s show, and they receive little response from Facebook users. But what if instead they posted a status update asking citizens: what do you want to ask Janet Napolitano on Meet The Press next Sunday? What if there was a chance David Gregory would actually ask your question to Napolitano on air? I guarantee you citizens of all ages and all backgrounds would start paying more attention if they felt like the networks were paying attention to them.
Continue reading the rest at Mediaite.
Last week, progressive activists Tracy Viselli, Jim Gilliam, Gina Cooper, and Jon Pincus launched TweetProgress.us, a directory of progressives on Twitter with the goal of helping progressives better organize online.
Also last week, Republicans launched a new Republicans-only social networking site, Republicanville, with the goal of helping Republicans better connect and organize online.
Which tool will achieve its stated goals of helping its community better organize themselves online, connect with each other, and use Twitter for activism and organizing? Obviously I’m biased in which one I want to see succeed.
TweetProgress already has had 3,000 Twitter users sign up, including Al Gore, Rachel Maddow, and Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, among others. Conservatives on Twitter have long been organizing through use of the #tcot hashtag, which even progressives admit has given conservatives the upper hand when it comes to organizing via Twitter.
Republicanville, on the other hand, claims to be a social network “of the people, by the people, and for the people.” Founded by Republicans Stryker Lampe and Charles A. Jense, the website states that their “fundamentals are based on fiscal conservatism with the ideals of smaller government, low taxes, stronger defense and capitalism. We welcome all types of Republicans + Independents & Libertarians.” It seems similar to Facebook — albums, profiles, groups, blogs, and in addition: a Republican job board. I haven’t seen enough coverage of it yet to find out more about what their goals are, or how many people have joined since their launch. It also begs the question: does the internet really need another social networking site?
I will definitely be paying attention to see how these two new tools fare over the next few weeks and how they will affect both sides’ ability to organize online.
Wait, what? You mean there is a use for LinkedIn? Yes there is, and the White House has found it!
According to the LinkedIn blog, the White House has been using the “Questions” feature on LinkedIn to ask small business owners what they think about healthcare reform.
“CEA Chair Christina Romer has posed a question on LinkedIn to engage in a dialogue with the small business community. She will be addressing your comments and questions in a live online video chat this coming Wednesday. We urge you to take part in this important dialogue and share your expertise and insights with our policy makers.”
Last week the internets saw the launch of yet another new social networking site, but this one with a twist: it’s just for Congress. Great, you think, so now members of Congress have their own private place to write on walls and poke each other and write passive-aggressive status updates!
But 3121, named for the phone extension of the Capitol switchboard, focuses on creating a dynamic directory of the tens of thousands of staffers that work on Capitol Hill — and at home in District offices.
I should probably disclose that 3121 is a project of the company I work for, in conjunction with the National Journal group. But this is exactly the kind of innovation going on at the intersection of politics and new media that will change the way our government operates.
Some highlights from the NMS blog:
- 3121 is a dynamic directory: this means that in addition to having the information that we can provide you at National Journal, community members are able to update their own profiles. This makes users constantly accessible, so you’ll know who moved from HELP to Foreign Relations right when it happens.
- 3121 is also a tool for collaboration: through our recommendation engine and with flexible, easy to navigate group pages, 3121 acts as a tool to help people better connect with relevant staffers to get their job done.
- 3121 puts you in control and allows for a customizable dashboard and customized news. The more you get to know the system and the more we get to know you, the more 3121 will rearrange and deliver you what you need, when and where you need it. From news on your issue and Member, to positioning your own profile and collaboration tools front and center, we give you what you need to make it your own.
By combining a social network + Hill directory + news aggregator, 3121 can solve two problems that Hill staffers and Washington insiders are constantly dealing with: too much email and too much news. Can 3121 reduce this information overload and…perhaps…make Congress more efficient? We’ll have to see. 3121 is in private beta right now, but will fully launch in September, and I’m excited to see it grow.
It’s being called “digital white flight.” And according to danah boyd, it should scare us all.
Last week at Personal Democracy Forum 2009, Dr. danah boyd’s talk on the hidden — or not-so-hidden — politics of class online was one of the hits of the conference. boyd’s talk explored the differences between usage of MySpace and Facebook and what it means for society.
How many times have we heard, said, or read that MySpace is dead? Hmm, well, I can think a of a few good examples. And really, who uses MySpace? boyd asked that question of the audience and no one raised their hands. She asked if we used Facebook and naturally, we all raised our hands. Do you use MySpace? Probably not. Probably because it’s ugly and garish, with flashy colorful layouts and too many which-victoria’s-secret-angel-are-you quizzes; the poor aesthetics and lack of features make Facebook the more popular choice for most of us.
But, MySpace still gets 70 million unique hits a month, according to boyd’s data. But if all of us, and everyone we know, is lamenting how ugly and useless MySpace is, and none of us actually use it (save for the occasional search for cool new indie bands), then who are these 70 million visitors a month? If MySpace is still getting 70 million visitors, it is clearly NOT dead. 70 million is significant; it’s not something to brush off. And yet most of us don’t use MySpace or know many people who do.
So who are they?
boyd interviewed hundreds of American teenagers to find out. Her results might be surprising–although they probably shouldn’t be.
Kat (14, Mass.): I’m not really into racism, but I think that MySpace now is more like ghetto or whatever, and Facebook is all… not all the people that have Facebook are mature, but its supposed to be like oh we’re more mature. … MySpace is just old.
Craig (17, California): The higher castes of high school moved to Facebook. It was more cultured, and less cheesy. The lower class usually were content to stick to MySpace. Any high school student who has a Facebook will tell you that MySpace users are more likely to be barely educated and obnoxious. Like Peet’s is more cultured than Starbucks, and Jazz is more cultured than bubblegum pop, and like Macs are more cultured than PC’s, Facebook is of a cooler caliber than MySpace.
Anastasia (17, New York): My school is divided into the ‘honors kids,’ (I think that is self-explanatory), the ‘good not-so-honors kids,’ ‘wangstas,’ (they pretend to be tough and black but when you live in a suburb in Westchester you can’t claim much hood), the ‘latinos/hispanics,’ (they tend to band together even though they could fit into any other groups) and the ‘emo kids’ (whose lives are allllllways filled with woe). We were all in MySpace with our own little social networks but when Facebook opened its doors to high schoolers, guess who moved and guess who stayed behind… The first two groups were the first to go and then the ‘wangstas’ split with half of them on Facebook and the rest on MySpace… I shifted with the rest of my school to Facebook and it became the place where the ‘honors kids’ got together and discussed how they were procrastinating over their next AP English essay.
Another thing boyd also pointed out was that these sites, although we new media types like to call them social networking sites, aren’t really used for networking other than by a small minority. Most people go on Facebook and MySpace and Twitter not to meet new people but to reinforce their existing relationships; and thus, a wall of separation that already exists is further reinforced. Different types of people are on MySpace and Facebook; and by limiting ourselves only to using one site, where all our friends are, we are maintaining that division since we will never interact with users on the other site.
During the talk, people at the conference were tweeting up a storm (myself included) but many of them seemed to react as if this was revolutionary to them. I don’t think the fact that there is a class division between MySpace and Facebook users should be revolutionary news, unless one is seriously out of touch with young people.
But I do think what boyd has done, in collecting actual data, evidence, and interviews from young people which supports an idea that we all knew was true all along but never had any actual proof of, is revolutionary. Did we all know this in the back of our minds? Yes, probably (I hope). But would anyone ever admit such a thing out loud or talk about it or acknowledge that it’s true? No. So naturally, there’s been plenty of critics arguing that it’s not true and that boyd’s argument is overblown.
One of the biggest criticisms I have heard of boyd’s argument so far is “It’s not that we like Facebook better because we’re racist or elitist; we just like the better design and better features. It’s not about race or class. We’re not racist!” (defensive much?)
But I think boyd already refuted that when she said: “All of this would be fine and dandy if friendships and aesthetics and values weren’t inherently intertwined with issues of race, socio-economic status, education, and other factors that usually make up our understanding of “class.” But they are.”
I have to agree with her. Your socioeconomic standing inevitably causes you to gravitate towards Facebook or MySpace more. Because all your friends are on one or the other. And because perhaps, if you’re used to nicer things in life, you’re going to want nicer things in your social networking site of choice.
danah boyd’s full talk is posted here. What are your thoughts? Do you use MySpace? Do you believe there’s a class division in social networking sites? And if so: how did we get there? And what do we do about it?
A short promotional note… As you’ve probably noticed, this blog has often been a place to talk about politics, a thing I like; media, another thing I like; and the internet (which you may have noticed I really like…). Next week, all three of those things are colliding at Personal Democracy Forum 2009, one of the largest conferences exploring the intersection of politics and new media. They have some fantastic speakers, including
- Clay Shirky, Author
- Jeff Jarvis, Author
- Craig Newmark, Craigslist
- Randy Zuckerberg, Facebook
- Nate Silver, 538.com,
- Vivek Kundra, White House CIO
- Joe Rospars, New Media Director of the Obama campaign
- Michael Wesch, “The Machine is Us/ing Us”
- Mark Pesce, Futurist
- Jack Dorsey, Co-founder of Twitter
- Frank Rich of the New York Times
- Ana Marie Cox of Air America
And hundreds of others. I’m excited to be attending, along with some of my fabulous NMS co-workers– and hope you will be too!
President Obama arrived in Saudi Arabia this morning (click here for a really breathtaking picture of his arrival). He met with King Abdullah. And then, in what would normally be appreciated by most as a gesture of cultural understanding, respect, and open-mindedness, Obama said: “Shukran.” That is the Arabic word for thank you. It’s like the first word we learned in Arabic 101 (and yes, full disclosure, I studied Arabic for years).
But that doesn’t stop the Michael Goldfarb over at conservative mag the Weekly Standard from whipping out the fear-mongering and hatred:
It seems there is some legitimate confusion on just what languages Obama speaks, and as far as Arabic, the only real hint has came from Nick Kristof, who heard Obama recite the Muslim call to prayer in Arabic and with a “first-rate accent” back in 2007. With even the White House now smearing Obama as a Muslim, one wonders if the president hasn’t been concealing some greater fluency with the language of the Koran.
Really? The President says one word in Arabic, and Goldfarb is trying to insinuate that the President is a secret Arabic speaker, and possibly even a Muslim when he tucks in that Koran reference at the end of the post. Oh no, what did we get ourselves into! We elected a secret Arabic speaker!
The problem with the Weekly Standard here is twofold. First and foremost, there’s the obvious issue that being able to say “thank you” in a foreign language does not by any stretch of the imagination mean the person in question can speak that language. Especially when the language is Arabic, a language so difficult to learn that one can spend years studying and still not be proficient in conversation. It’s a ridiculous correlation to make. And Nick Kristof is hardly a judge of whether Obama has a “first-rate” Arabic accent. NO one who is a native English speaker develops a first-rate Arabic accent just like that. It’s more difficult than you might imagine.
Second is the problem that Goldfarb, like many conservatives, is once again using the Muslim Smear. Once again, they’re implying that speaking Arabic or being Arab or being a Muslim are negative, un-American, un-welcome traits in America. Once again, they’re trying to instill fear in the hearts of conservative Americans who still are wary of Muslims in the post-9/11 era.
Doesn’t it ever get old?