Can the wacky, populist world of YouTube really influence the presidential debates? Soliciting 30-second video questions, CNN is pawing through more than 1,479 submissions - on subjects ranging from the serious to the absurd - to present at the Democratic and Republican debates,reports the San Jose Mercury News. Only four dozen will be aired at the debates, but all are available to view on YouTube.com now. Candidates are hoping that adding this unconventional approach will beef up debate viewership.|
Some questions are already drawing YouTube viewership. A cancer patient named Kim pulls off her wig during her video question to reveal the effects of chemotherapy. She didn’t care much for the media spotlight.
“I don’t really want extra publicity unless CNN is doing it, at least not before the debate,” she said in an e-mail denying a formal interview. “I’m afraid if too much info about me gets out there I wont be the `everywoman’; and my video might not get picked.” The Edwards and Clinton campaigns are also jumping on the multimedia bandwagon by soliciting video questions to their own Web sites. “Everyone is in search of the right multimedia solution; politics is no different,” said Barbara O’Connor, director of California State University-Sacramento’s Institute for the Study of Politics and Media. “The danger with that is that a lot of people don’t subscribe to cable and we have a digital divide in broadband.
We’re certainly in a different age than when the networks pre-empted programming for a debate.” The fact that CNN is choosing the videos and not YouTube users, has some criticizing the process for not being democratic enough. “Our expectation was that they were really going to use the Web and let the wisdom of the crowd help drive politics in a more democratic way,” said David Colarusso, a Massachusetts physics teacher. In response to CNN’s process, Colarusso’s website now has a place where viewers can vote on which video questions they would like to see asked. The introduction of video questions by Joe Citizen may not influence next year’s election outcome, says Peter Leyden, of the San Francisco-based New Politics Institute. It may be that this first video-based debate “is more symbolic of the potential than actual performance.”.
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