Quite an historic event this week, with the CNN/YouTube joint Democratic Presidential candidate debate.
MSM certainly took note. As the Chicago Tribune's Steve Johnson put it, "it was a bad night for news anchors and Washington bureau chiefs, the traditional interrogators of would-be holders of American high office."
Carol Darr, Director of the Institute for Politics, Democracy and the Internet, said that for the first time, “the filter that mainstream establishment media plays in presidential races — ‘we ask the questions, we are the exalted panel’ — that was broken down.”
Jon Stewart introduces and sets the tone ...
"Video size is important to the debate .. only young people can see it."
And more from Jon Oliver — did CNN 'youthenize' the debate? ...
Note the 'Al qaeda' drinking game ..
TechPresident summed up the reactions.
It brought home the hollowness of much of our scripted political speech, since those candidates who could break through the rhetoric and talk with a human voice really stood out
And Huffpost has a good dissection of what actually happened - they followed the questioners.
YouTube themselves described the new debate format as “more democratic than ever.” Apparently, YouTube founder Chad Hurley is hot for Obama (as are a lot of Google employees).
And — this has got to be a good sign — White House Press Secretary Tony Snow asked 'Did [Bush] watch the debate?' answered 'I don’t think so. I don’t think he’s big on YouTube debates'.
Andrew Keen - he of 'The cult of the amateur', which bangs on about Wikipedia being unreliable - took a hit as many videos from the 'amateurs' were very well produced or showed the sort of cunning approach journalists have by picking a hole they figured producers would need to fill.
This is what young guy John Cantees did in addressing a candidate everyone else would ignore.
Though another way of looking at it is that the process ends up sounding not dissimilar to that employed by Endermol to fill the BigBrother House.
CNN didn't just "pick the questions." They identified contributors and in some cases worked with them to shape the video.
If the whole point of the exercise was to hear from citizens, it just shows how hard it is to displace the spirit of professionalism with another spirit-- even when one is trying.And although there was a first - one woman on the stage - only 11 of 39 questions were from women - 70% were from men.
At this early stage, it's hardly surprising that videos like this one about Alzheimer's gets in — only 3000 video questions were submitted.
Noted that the documentation by YouTube is terrible. Here's that question on YouTube — see if you can find the answer here (it's the one below), on YouTube's main recap page. (The question was actually mashed in with others). One thing I've noticed recently as YouTube iterates its design is the navigation getting stripped too far back, so you get too much simplicity and too little complexity.
NB: and yes, you are reading CNN host Anderson Cooper right ..
POSTSCRIPT: Apparently, the Republican candidates think it's silly and that their base don't watch YouTube, so they aren't signing up for their version in September. The WashPost quotes Mitt Romney saying "I think the presidency ought to be held at a higher level than having to answer questions from a snowman." Republican blogger Andrew Sullivan says: "Ducking YouTube after the Dems did so well will look like a party uncomfortable with the culture and uncomfortable with democracy. But then, we kind of knew that already, I guess, didn't we?"