After the last blog – I was looking at THE  White House official site –

www.whitehouse.gov

and saw some good and bad use of the internet tools we’ve been learning about in class.  The title graphic is classy and not too big.  Colors – simple variations on blue with white space and black type. Nothing too flashy.

They have a simple list – again type not too large – listing on the left listing 19 subjects under the heading “In Focus” .  They are in alphabetical order so no one can accused the White House of playing favorites on certain topics – I guess.  But I also see a missed opportunity to bring in video to enhance what the words on the page are saying.  The Afghanistan page – for example – has a top item talking about a video conference the President did:

President Bush Participates in Video Teleconference with Afghanistan Provincial Reconstruction Team Leaders and Brigade Combat Commanders

And you roll you cursor over the text – and NOTHING. NO link to the teleconference they reference in the text. But there is a LONG 13 line explanation of what our strategy in Afghanistan is.  Oh- and I forgot to mention – above these exciting bits of words on a white background – is a photo –

Bush official handshake

Bush official handshake

Again – VERY official handshake photo.  Not a lot of imagination here.

Back to the front page of the website – IS a fun photo – of the President with something every politician is apt to be captured holding – a small child!

The President plays in Peoria

The President plays in Peoria

You also see some other graphics and photos that link to more photos.

But some of the newer connectors for people in the “connected’ world – I am pleased to see. They have a link to RSS feeds – a link to podcasts – but they are all audio only podcasts. The page is nicely laid out – but the buttons beneath each topic read  “play audio”. The they have podcasts ont he right side of the page – and those are not quite – ready for prime time. The pages look like this:

<?xml version=”1.0″ encoding=”UTF-8″ ?>

<rss xmlns:itunes=”http://www.itunes.com/DTDs/Podcast-1.0.dtd version=”2.0>

<channel>
  <language>en-us</language>
  <itunes:summary>President George W. Bush’s featured speeches and remarks.</itunes:summary>
 

 I know my own network offers video podcasts for Nightly News. (but it’s not on You Tube – it’s a mediafly file – and I could not get our Word Press system to put it in the blog – so I’ll put a graphic in)

 

null

But the White House DOES have some fun videos on the site.  Like this one featuring – none other than – Barney (the dog) – who is moving a little slow these days. But I can’t put the White House link on our blog – so here’s a version of one of the White House Barney videos that ITN did a story on – 

And the ones they do on the kids playing little league baseball are precious – but you’ll have to go to the site to see them – click on the kids tab in the upper right hand corner of the screen.

I wrote about this in my final project – because one of our speakers in class – and at least one author (perhaps all of them) talked about the importance of getting your domain names nailed down – early in the process.

If you just go to the URL line on your computer – and type McCain.com – this is what you’ll see:

McCain foods

And while the campaign’s website is www.johnmccain.com

changing just the last 3 letters – from dot com to dot net – brings you this:

alt McCain site 

And when you try the dot org – you see

McCain.org

Let’s look at the other side of the Presidential race.

When you plug in obama.com – you’ll need an asian language proficiency to make sense of this opening page:

Obama.com

The campaign’s official opening page is this: http://www.barackobama.com/index.php

Now this campaign has got the dot net version – covered. Check it out:

BarackObama.net

And the dot org version is not an official campaign site – it IS related to the campaign. How about a Barack Obama soda – if you thirst for more of this campaign? then here’s your link to that type of merchandise:

BarackObama.org

I have always chuckled about this next one.  To reach the official site of the house both of these gents would like to live in – come January of 2009 – you might think the URL is www.whitehouse.com– right? Well – it use to be a porn site – but I guess the domain owners were willing to sell the rights to someone else. It’s a political site – but NOT associated with the federal government. To get to the White House site you probably expected – you need to go to:    www.whitehouse.gov

It seems like such a simple thing to overlook – but if you are worried about voters being confused – you want to make sure there is NO problem with them finding out about YOUR candidate. Can you imagine your competition getting a hold of one of those websites that is really close to yours?  What havoc they could unleash – putting false propaganda about your person up in such a way – to confuse potential voters and/or supporters?  The possibilities of ways it could hurt your campaign – are endless. So cut them off at the pass – and prevent disaster from happening – by nailing down domain names – at the early stage of your campaign.

For my final project – I have been reading a lot of websites in Michigan – and one of them gave this video a rather prominent position:

It shows the power of humor in getting a message across. This is about a health care measure – but the concept is the same you’d use for a political ad. I think it is one of the most powerful ways to get a message across (tho this one I think goes on a tad too long – I DO think the concept is very effective).  And the target is one many people would easily label as the “enemy” – health insurance companies. And the repeated tag line “insurance company rules” – allowing them to change the rules in the middle of the game – what’s NOT to love about that!

Then you’ve talked about the more biting approach of some on line videos – especially in political circles. This one targeting John McCain –

is a bit over the line of good taste (to me). But the humor lesson might be effective in reaching a target audience of people other then me. (smile)

And here’s one – supporting McCain – slamming Obama. If you are sensitive on foul language – be warned – the closing line is not something you’d probably want your mother to hear.

 This next one – is VERY funny! Links Phil Gramm – the gent who told us the recession is all in our minds …. with a parody about a seminar he is holding at your local Holiday Inn this weekend.

It is effective – in part because a couple of times – they have shots of Gramm and McCain together.  So the audience is sure – not to miss – that these two had been tied together at the hip – until the fiasco hit the media.

And though Hillary is no longer in the race – this one makes fun of her moves toward the end of her campaign.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KuhUpiASBOU&NR=1

The only problem with this approach – is that what’s funny to me – may not be funny to you.  The one I noted with the profanity in it – might be enough to turn some people off.  But these are things that you could NEVER get away with on commercial or cable TV.  But the visual presentation and the voices/ music etc …..do make for some very funny – and therefore effective ways to get your message across. And in the end – I think people will remember it – longer.

And could the U-S Senate reach that magical 60 votes needed to over ride a republican filibuster in the senate? That question is asked by an article on the Huffington Post site. At one point in the article – you see:

“The conservative Washington Times felt compelled to publish a dreary editorial bemoaning the state of the congressional Republicans, while even sober analysts are predicting a shift of between five to seven seats into Democratic hands.”

And the article points out While Obama mania is capturing the attention of many people watching political happenings – democrats have just come off one of their best fund raising weeks – so far – in this campaign cycle.

This next one – gives strength to the belief that democrats may pick up a seat or two in the House – as well.  The headline says – this democrat is changing the tone of the campaign – with this ad:  

Here’s an analysis from Congressional Quarterly – that talks about success rates seem to be going in favor of democrats this year.

The question is – is this all back lash against the President ? He is having one of his most successful fund raising years – in the history of his political life.

President Bush helping raise money in Illinois this week

President Bush helping raise money in Illinois this week

And Just last week – was in Illinois (yes – Barack Obama’s home state) helping an unknown – and therefore helping the party (hopefully) secure another seat in congress. One of the big questions is: since 32 of his last 36 fund rasining appearences were behind closed doors – it appears the White House “gets it” – because they are only sending the president to districts where he – quote “can not do any harm”.   And the majority of the president’s fund raising – is for the republican Party – not individuals – because being seen with him is considered toxic – in many political circles.  And what a record.  Taking a quote from the article:

 “His 36 events this year have brought in $67,820,010 for the party and its candidates, according to Mark Knoller of CBS News, who keeps a detailed log of presidential fund-raising.”

But Presidenet Bush is VERY good at this fund raising game.

Posted by: shecon | July 26, 2008

Be careful about the video you’re putting out there

Google is being taken to court because of video that appeared on its website. This first story deals with a youngster suffering from Down’s syndrome being taunted by others in his class.  Italian prosecutors have been studying the situation for two years – and have concluded to pursue prosecution of four Goggle executives.  The article reads – in part –   “Magistrates ….. claim the airing of the 191-second clip, which showed the youths making fun of the teenager before hitting him over the head with a box of tissues, amounted to a breach of privacy and was defamatory” .    Who is to  blame?  The teenagers who did the taunting – and videotaped it? Or the video internet executives that allowed it to travel out for public consumption?

Ah – but there’s more.

Here – is where some folks in Spain are being fined  for taking pictures of “Johns” being solicited by prostitutes. It’s happening yards from the police station in Madrid.  And the residents grew tired of police indifference – so they put some of the video on the internet. Here’s a clip from the article:

Twenty-two of them were then placed on the You Tube website in the hope that they would act as a deterrent for the men if there was the danger that their wives would spot them attempting to buy sex.

The Spanish Data Protection Agency, however, has ordered the neighbours to take down the webcams and fined them 601 euros (£475) for broadcasting images of passers-by without their consent.

No word on whether You Tube would be prosecuted for facilitating the “outing”. (Unlike the example above)

Now this next one is tough to hear about – much less watch.  A mother is gang raped while her children cry near by. This clip was on You Tube. And an article talking about it – appears here.  A quote from the article:         

A three-minute film showing the mother sexually assaulted by three boys after her drink had been spiked was uploaded soon after the incident, which took place in November.

In the clip, which was filmed with a mobile phone, the mother appears to be unconscious, with her head lolling from side to side, as she is repeatedly raped. Her two-year-old daughter and four-year-old son are heard crying in the background.

A source close to You Tube says it’s impossible for the site to review all the video uploaded – because they get about 10 hours worth of video every minute. But once its brought to their attention – they will remove it.  British authorities have not yet decided if You Tube will be prosecuted in this case.

One of the dangers of the fast moving internet world we are living in – is inappropriate video ending up in public domain.  So what do we do? 

(You’ll notice I did NOT put any video links in this blog. By design – fyi.)

Posted by: shecon | July 26, 2008

Is the media (coverage) fair to McCain?

It’s a question raised in this AP story – and it raises some important issues. You have the major network anchors visiting with Barack Obama, this week, in various Mideast or European cities – to conduct “exclusive” interviews. Now some interviewers did ask the question – none of these people can vote for you – so why are you doing it? But in many ways – it was a huge plus for Obama.

The AP story was in advance of the trip.  Sometimes – you just have to watch how it all plays out.

In any trip of this sort – there will be snags. Obama HAD planned to visit injured U-S troops in Germany – but the stop was cancelled. Initial reports said it was because the pentagon said it would be too political. But then the story was flushed out a bit.

One account – from the ABC correspondent on the trip in his blog – tells a slightly different story . Read that version – here.

Look at the reaction from the newspapers in Europe about the substance of his comments. You’ll hear about it when you Check out this review from an english speaking channel in France.

Then you have suggestions to McCain about how to benefit from Obama’s trip – like this one from conservative commentator – Laura Ingraham.

But then you get a different perspective in the world of blogs. I’m still getting to know this world. But for my final project – I have been reading a lot of sites focused on Michigan and the problems of people living there. Then I read this blog from a minister in Detroit – who says Obama and McCain care more about Israel and Iran then about the people of Detroit. That there are poor and suffering people there – and all these two can talk about is who is better at protecting America froma  terrorist attack. How about helping our neighbors in need ?

So while it would be nice – if Afghanistan is going to be a major focus of our military campaigns around the world – to have the European union helping us OUT with troops and equipment in the fight in Afghanistan. (part of the message Barack Obama delivered while on his trip) It would also be nice if we can get the focus of the presidential campaign – back to the things that affect the every day Americans pocketbook –   the U-S economy – people losing jobs  &  people losing homes. And how we turn THAT situation – around.

Posted by: shecon | July 20, 2008

VP contenders on the democratic side

It does not seem realistic to me that ANYONE could seriously think after the campaign/fight these two candidates had – that Barack Obama would chose HIllary Clinton – as his # 2.  But not wanting to let the adamant Hillary backers lose their enthusiasm – we have The New York Times telling us – HRC is being vetted for the job.

The article goes on to say that leading democrats say if Obama does NOT chose HIllary for the job- it would be difficult for him to choose ANY OTHER woman for the post – because it would anger HIllary supporters.  And some of them are holding back and raising funds for Obama waiting to see who he chooses.

Aren’t we yet at the point in this country – where more than one woman for a major political party can be considered for a top position? Another article gives the impression – maybe we ARE beyond that point.

Look at the number of women who are governors – managing huge state budgets in trying financial times. Providing a crop of candidates– on BOTH sides of the aisle – that might have just arrived – along with the country –  to be in the right place at the right time in the evolution of politics in America.  And if some disillusioned women voters who supported HIllary – don’t get their wish to see her in the number two slot on Obama’s ticket – would McCain pick up some of those voters – by putting a woman in as his # 2 on the republican ticket?  One woman who has been speaking on behalf of McCain’s campaign – Carly Fiorina, the former chief executive of Hewlett-Packard – would present a vibrant counter balance – for those  concerned about McCain’s age.  It’s an interesting time – in American politics.

It has been reported that HIllary Clinton is not interested in the #2 job. And if she were – there is the “Bill Factor”.  As Obama reportedly told a supporter – “Once you’re a president, even if you’re a former president, you’re always a president” .

As I said earlier – it’s an interesting time in the race for America’s President.

Stay tuned.

Posted by: shecon | July 13, 2008

Can they predict how you’ll vote by where you shop?

I recall hearing about this kind of marketing strategic approach years ago. And am fascinated to hear how Karl Rove used it to win Pres. Bush’s 2nd term in 2004.  I DO believe there are some ways you can predict human behavior. But am bothered to think it could come down to whether you shop at Walmart or eat at McDonald’s.

But in one of the articles you gave us links to – I read this paragraph about the whole Karl Rove reelection effort:

In Ohio, the key battleground of the 2004 campaign, Gage’s microtargeting showed that black voters — who had traditionally not been drawn to the GOP — wanted to hear candidates talk about education and health care. As a result, they received a series of contacts — direct mail and phone calls, primarily — emphasizing Bush’s accomplishments on just those two issues. It was a much different message from the president’s broader attempt to cast the election as a choice between staying the course in Iraq and the anti-terrorism effort or switching teams in midstream.

And I thought – as recently as 2004 – they were NOT using the internet for this sort of thing?  Why not? Is it still a medium only thought to reach the under 30 crowd?  Or is there some other reason? It’s something to explore.

But another big revelation in support of conducting microtargeting in campaigns – is the news about who is watching the five major television networks. Traditionally – political campaigns have gone for the broad brushstroke approach by placing expensive 30 second spots on national and local television stations – to reach potential voters. But unless they target those spots to networks -OTHER THAN- the top five – they will miss what marketers USE to call the all important 18-49 demo. Which in this case – is a HUGE chunk of potential voters.

I interviewed the director of GW’s institute for Politics, Democracy and the Internet  – Julie Barko Germany last week. It’s for a piece I am working on that will be sent out to all the NBC stations – soon.  And one of  the main points she made on this topic – is that it is really hard to convince old time political campaign managers to invest a great deal in social marketing tools and blogs on the internet ( to either boost your candidates appeal or to raise money) withOUT a proven track record showing that these avenues produce substantial funds – or translate into people actually voting for your candidate. The tremendous fundraising effort of Barack Obama’s campaign in 2008 may change the fundraising perspective on that long held belief by old time campaign managers. But we won’t know til November – if those same internet tools motivate people to show up at the polls to vote for Mr. Obama – whose campaign is leading the internet revolution. But not abandoning the tried and true techniques of buying advertising in key states and running ads in traditional media outlets, too.

I went back and read your description of James Kotecki – before his days with politico.com. Your intro included: Kotecki began in January posting Web videos critiquing candidates’ use of You Tube from his Georgetown University dorm room, where he was a senior majoring in international security studies. Over the course of the spring he  developed a wide on line following, interviewed seven of the candidates, and in August the Politico hired him to film the Iowa State Fair and the Iowa Republican Straw Poll.

So then I was on a mission to define – what – in this changing landscape of journalism today – IS a journalist.  And I ran into some interesting links.

One of the first ones involved a map – of where in the U-S – print journalists were  getting buyout offers and early retirement deals.  It’s evidence – to me – of the changing landscape for journalists. (Print being the first – then radio, television and Internet)

Next – because at one point I was in television news management and am aware of the dollars and sense (not cents) and bottom line perspective of doing news – I saw this– and knew that when newspapers are losing money and laying off journalists – and the Internet is growing in leaps and bounds – there has to be a new breed of journalists emerging.  It appears Mr. Kotecki is in that group.

But when he started out – critiquing what the candidates were doing with their You Tube image – I’m not sure he instantly became a journalist.  To give that assessment some “umpf” – I though I should seek a more authoritative source to nail down the definition. And found this:

Someone who works in the news gathering business, such as a photographer, editor or reporter.
edweb.sdsu.edu/courses/EDTEC670/Cardboard/board/p/pulitzer/pulitzer5.html

Not exactly the slam dunk definition I was hoping for.  By the time he was interviewing candidates – I think he stepped over the line into journalism. (depending on how he handled the information he GOT from those conversations)  But it appears we are now moving through some stretches of gray areas – between the ‘spewing my personal opinion’ – phase – and ‘being a journalist’.  The gray areas are becoming more pronounced. 

But it’s important to note that the WAYS people are getting information – are changing rapidly. And in many cases – its a generational difference – based on the habits you’ve developed in your life.  An easy way to illustrate these differences is by looking at this graphic – that talks about baby boomers – versus those born between 1965 -1976 (called generation x) and those born between 1977 and 1995 (which I think our professor has labeled the millennium generation).  The latter generation – assumes they will have technology (since they grew up with it).  And assumes they will have a killer lifestyle – not just a great job or a great life.  A very different approach. And “journalism” needs to adjust for the new viewers coming on line right now.

As for similarities between Mr. Kotecki and Chris Matthews – both of them seem to holler at the camera.  Beyond that – they are speaking to very different audiences. But perhaps they are equally capable of informing people. I guess I am not sure of the level of research Mr. Kotecki does – compared to what Mr. Mathews does. But I don’t always think being objective is an overwhelming factor in both camps. Which is part of what I always thought journalism should be.

Posted by: shecon | June 29, 2008

Should John McCain be online every day?

I must admit – I can not imagine NOT being on a computer every day. (Well, maybe for a day or two – but not ‘computer-less’ for a week!) But I am also not in John McCain’s shoes.  And when you look at the tongue and cheek piece that Jeanie Moos did on CNN on this topic (if you missed it – click here – I am reminded of a belief among –some – internet savvy people – that those who are NOT in the know – are some how lesser people.  That’s precisely the reaction in my gut when I hear the McCain campaign’s Mark Soohoo say to Tracy Russo “you don’t have to actually use a computer to understand how it shapes the country” – and her response – “that’s just the point – you do!”

Do you have to know how to teach a first grader to read – to know that education is important? No.  I think it’s an oversimplification on Ms. Russo’s part to say he needs to understand computers to lead the country. But he DOES have to have advisors near by – to help him see how this important change in the way we live and do business – needs to weave its way into his policies and thinking.

When I read her response to the exchange a week later (find it by clicking HERE) – I am insulted by her tone. And every parent who is a bit uncomfortable about the internet – but has children who are comfortable – I’m guessing are alienated by her approach.  And it is an example of the dividing line between two major sections of people following the presidential campaign.

If you talk to younger voters – who are tech savvy – you’d think Obama has this race won – hands down.  And if you talk to a 50-something farmer in Kansas and his buddies at the American Legion hall – you might think McCain is running away with this contest.  The truth is somewhere between these two camps.  The latest polls on this race (examples can be found HERE) show Obama and McCain  are in a very tight race.  On “Meet the Press”  today, a major topic was the focus both camps will give this week to western states – because they are major battleground states. And could decide who our next president – will be.  Chuck Todd’s exchange with Tom Brokaw (click HERE to read transcript) highlights how many more western states have democratic governors then they had in 2000. His belief is that its an indication of a change in the make up of the country. He also points out that here are a lot of younger voters in the west. Which helps Barack Obama’s chances, too.

As we’ve said in class many times – it’s all very interesting to look at.  But the proof is in the pudding.  We’ll know more – when we see who actually comes out to vote – on election day in November.

 

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