I was undoubtedly part of a group of millions who watched the first debate of the combatants for the US Presidency last night. Since I can’t vote in the US Election, my opinion of the candidates really doesn’t or shouldn’t matter to anyone.
Overall, I did find the debate at points interesting and at points very boring. I perked up when there was talk about foreign policy and how just the use of a country’s name was expected to elicit strong feelings one way or the other. I didn’t see any “Read My Lips” moments and went to bed wishing I’d watched a couple of hours of something else. But, I did see a great deal that proves why we need to teach and learn about media literacy.
In the light of the morning, I started to ponder just how to media would interpret the events and there was a lot to behold.
More than the conventional media though, YouTube was alive with all kinds of purposely edited clips supporting one position or another. Typically, this is done in short little clips taken out of context of the much larger show. The neat thing is that, thanks to the posts to YouTube, I don’t even have to do the editing.
As I enjoyed the morning coffee, I played some of the clips. It dawned on me that I’m doing the exact same thing that media services do. You’ve got these little clips – take the one that supports your position best, edit it and show it and you’re a genius and insightful. Only someone who watched the entire program would know the context but don’t let that get in the way of a good story.
If you can’t get the point across, go for an impartial source like, say, the candidate for vice-president.
Everything becomes an editorial or an opportunity to come across with a strong position. Not part of the debate last night, but Katie Couric interviewed the candidate for VP on the republican side and Jack Cafferty was quick to zero in on this part of the interview.
This is but part of the resources that are available to you. YouTube, for each video, includes links to related videos on the same topic or close to same topic.
It occurs to me that it’s really a shame and a disservice to all of the candidates. Let’s face it; you don’t get to be elected members of government, Senators, or the Governor of a State by default. These are all talented and gifted individuals who have put years into developing their competencies and a record of achievement. To get the message out, they expose themselves on live television answering, without preparation, questions fired at them by a moderator who has had the advantage of a writing team putting together the questions designed to take the interviewee by surprise. Not only that, but they’ll have teleprompters and a backup team ready to come up with probing followup questions. The person with the best preparation and depth of knowledge should certainly rise to the top.
If you don’t have time to understand how elections work, you can always rely on our friends from Commoncraft.
Into the mix, throw in folks who are digitally recording the events prepared to jump onto any little YouTube-ish clip that supports a perspective and it can be posted and debated online before the original show is over. If you don’t have time for the digital remastering, you can get opinions 140 characters at a time here.
It really does make you wonder why anyone would put themselves up for scrutiny in this manner as they head for public office.