Tuesday, December 2, 2008

youtube politics

In an attempt to do I-don't-know-what, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom decided to go directly to the masses with his State of the City speech this week. Read all about it right here.

Was the point to feed democracy? Provide direct access to constituents? Bypass the press?

His speech logged in at some seven-and-a-half hours, kid you not, and has been posted in webisodes on his own youtube channel in blocks of up to an hour. Sounds like a fun way to spend the day, yeah?

Is anyone watching? Not really, when you compare the number of hits he has gotten so far with the circulation, measly as it has become, of the hometown newspaper, which has spent more ink on his manner of delivery than on what he actually said.

Columnist C.W. Nevius, for example, wrote about the whole exercise in today's Chronicle, bringing up a bunch of questions that echo my own, some of which I noted here a few weeks ago when I posted a link to the WaPo article on president-elect Obama's plan to use the web to communicate directly with his supporters, again bypassing the press. Nevius, of course, was funny. You can read his piece here.

And so you gotta wonder. Is this the way of the future? Has the news media not only lost its readers -- but its talking heads? In theory, speaking directly to the people, with access for all, is good. But then there's that little nag, even if that politician happens to be your guy. Don't we want someone to vet what s/he has to say? The journalists' job is to provide the whole pix, and sometimes speechification doesn't quite get it done.

Pallin' around with a terrorist, for example, might be nothing more than serving on a committee with a college professor. bk

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