Mumbai Attacks and the Future of News

It’s too early to digest the still moving situation in India. But watching twitter and the Indian government’s response to the messages being posted from around the world it is clear a new era in world wide event coverage has begun.


CNN is going to have HOLOGRAMS tomorrow!


Help Me Wolf Blitzer, youre my only hope!

Help Me Wolf Blitzer, you're my only hope!

Sorry guys, I needed to post something light-hearted this afternoon. Apparently not content with having cool screens where they can tap and stretch things ala iPhone, CNN is employing what they call the hologram. From the USA Today Story:


…instead of the split screen or window TV viewers might typically see during live remote interviews, the Obama spokesperson will be projected as a three-dimensional hologram, making it appear as if he or she is in the Manhattan studio with Blitzer…

and on the technology…

CNN will have 44 cameras and 20 computers in each remote location to capture 360-degree imaging data of the person being interviewed. Images are processed and projected by computers and cameras in New York. There’ll also be plasma TVs in Chicago and Phoenix that will let the people being interviewed see Blitzer and other CNN correspondents. Bohrman says the network can project two different views from each city so Blitzer can appear to be in the studio with two holograms.

Ok so it’s a little Star Wars, it still sounds cool to me. I’ll have to catch it on youtube, because I’ll be watching the returns on PBS.

Polling Data Drives the Narrative

Were I to weild a mighty hatchet in the world of media, my first hack would be at Rush Limbaugh. The second would be at polling data. Every major news organization these days seems to partner with another major news organization or university to generate polling data among “registered voters” or “likely voters.” I am no expert on polling. But this year there seems to be two anamolies worrying pollsters and media-watchers alike. The so-called Bradley effect-where voters say they are undecided or pro-black candidate, then enter the booths, reveal their closeted racism and vote the other way. The other issue is newer, the so-called cell phone-only effect. This one says that because many young people only have cell phones and many young people are pro-obama and cell phones are not subjected to polling, therefore it’s possible a vast number of young people poised to vote for Obama that aren’t being counted in these polls. 

I for one, don’t care about either of these phenomona. What matters to me as a media watcher and voter is the simple reliance we have on polling to explain to us what is going to happen and what people are thinking at this moment. Polling has replaced actual reporting an analysis when it comes to covering the election. It used to be we’d see poll results once a month, then once a week. Today we see polling data daily from multiple sources bent of on telling us what voters are thinking across the country and in the key battleground states. Forget about the dubious veracity of polling. There is something to be said for polls being the campaign narrative. Back when Obama secured the nomination pundits wanted to know why he wasn’t further ahead. Now they want to know why McCain is so far behind. All of these things create a football game-like atmosphere in which its the polls that become the story, as if winning this week’s polls secures you points toward the end of the game. 

The media should be focusing on real data and real issues in these campaigns. It should be digesting and qualifying all of the dutiful fact-checking that’s now being done into something more digestable for the average voter. In short the media should be informing voters rather than measuring their opinions based on limited information.

How the Blogosphere changed the Election

Much has been made of the blogosphere, and the twitterverse and many have questioned the value of this level of meta-chatter as part of our national political discourse. The blogosphere has been debunked as the “echo-chamber” little more than a place where like minded people repeated their opinions (often based on bias information) back to each other in an endless loop. Even we here at thinkPOP have questioned whether or not the blogosphere simply increases the liklihood of us living in a fact-less world.

From a post in our days as Policythought:

…But in the age of the internet it’s far worse than that. I can ensconce myself in ideological blogs and podcasts, the echo-chamber effect. And when empirical evidence begins to pop up that my ideology or political leader might not be right, I can simply recreate reality through unfounded stories and minority reports…

…The Internet for all it’s power to share information, might actually be encouraging people to pull further into their demographic an ideological enclaves than explore others…

That’s the down side of world of blogging, tweeting, and facebook-status changing that we now live in. But there is an upside, and we saw it at play this week.

The sense many were getting from John McCain rallies across the country was that his supporters had taken on an ugly “some have called it “hard edged” tone. It was one of those stories everyone felt was true but there wasn’t much evidence of so it never gained traction. This is also the kind of story the main stream media (a term I really hate, please someone come up with a better one) can’t really cover effectively. Polls and surveys never accurately reflect something as touchy as racism. And once a film crew and news reporter come in to take video all of the sudden people are on their best behavior.

Enter the citizen journalist, enter the blogger.

While he clearly had an agenda in making the video, his being an “average Joe” citizen not only made it more likely for people to answer honestly, it gave a forum for people to speak their minds. It was just a guy with a camera, not CNN. But when this video went up on youtube and linked to small blog after small blog, then to the major blogs like Politico, the MSM had no choice but to pay attention to a very real story that was captured and exposed on video for the world to see.

That eruption has shown the ugly side of McCain’s support and has fundamentally changed how McCain deals with some of these folks. Just today, Politico is up with another field report of an uncomfortable exchange between McCain and some supporters at a rally. The point here is that citizen journalism that exposed a real truth about the campaign changed the narrative of the race. That is the power of the blogosphere and the new media age. We need to embrace that power as a way of legitimizing the media landscape Americans find less and less trustworthy.

Unringing the Bell

There are 45 days left to go until the election. With that kind of time. I thought it might make sense to remind everyone of the real issues facing the American people. They’re listed in no particular order.

The federal purchase of ALL bad mortgage debt in the nation
The war in Iraq
The war in Afghanistan
Lipstick on Pigs
Global Warming
Sex education for kindergarteners
Energy independence
Who’s the biggest celebrity?
National Healthcare
Will the Clinton’s support Obama fully?
Is shooting wolves from a helicopter wrong?
Education K-12
What is the difference between a hockey mom and a pitbull?
Affordability of College

The campaigns have had no problem talking about some of these issues, but not others. Which are important to you?

Guess what Liberals: Now you have a woman to hate

I spent a lot (some would say too much) time today reading blogs, columns and comment boards on the Palin speech of last night. The commentary was either overwhelmingly positive. This unknown burst onto the scene and wowed the crowd at the Xcel center. Or they are fiercely negative. She is the anti-christ in beauty-queen form. The hockey mom from hell.



Then I had a moment of clarity when I was tossed through the looking glass and into the past, a not-too-distant past, where a new comer to national politics came to the scene. A pantsuit wearing liberal with bad hair and a false smile-she rode the coattails of someone with more history and charisma and from her seat of national power she sought to ruin the civic and private lives of all Americans.

Two very different women same story:

For conservatives everywhere Hillary Clinton represents a socialized medicine loving, pantsuit wearing, liberal hell bent on taking your children and raising them in a village. She was an unqualified neophyte with no right to thrust her ultra left wing views upon the nation.

And now fast forward 16 or so years and Sarah Palin has finally emerged to play the mirror role. A gun-toting, oil drilling, polar bear killing, hockey mom. She wants to kill taxes and evolution, fires people for not banning books, and thinks global warming is the construct of liberal scientists, the same people who brought you that pesky Darwin.

Sure they are different stages in their careers, but the story arches are the same. While Hillary came inches

from her party’s nomination, and Palin is playing mini-maverick, these women are fulfilling the same roles for their respective sides of the culture war. Symbol, demagogue, target and Joan of Arc for their friends and enemies.

Women have made remarkable strides in the political life of America. I wonder though, if we’ve really made strides if women can only rise to power in the wake of man, and if they can only be seen in the extreme, not only politically, but socially. 

Hillary Clinton is a cold calculating “bitch.” Hell bent on her own political success. Sarah Palin is a ditzy ex-beauty queen, playing puppet to the conservative establishment to keep winning her life-long popularity contest. One is seen as too smart for her own good, the other as too dumb. They are mirror images, polar opposites, in everything but the magnitude of order the media as bestowed on them so quickly. It’s not to say they are not news worthy women, clearly the opposite is true. But what does it say about us that we only have female politicians playing in the extremes of our pop culture?

Politico “Apologizes” For Questioning Palin

Roger Simon of Politico thinks the media should say it’s sorry for questioning Sarah Palin’s credentials in the press. The same way that Swift suggested the Irish boil babies to feed the famished. Read it here. Bravo, Roger.