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Daily Digest: OffTheBus Causes Traditional Media Sleepless Nights

BY Nancy Scola | Thursday, July 24 2008

The Web on the Candidates

  • At the bleeding edge of citizen journalism is OffTheBus, a project of the Huffington Post, and in this, the month of its one-year anniversary, OTB gets the New York Times treatment. OffTheBus is busily figuring out how to weave the efforts of some 7,500 contributors into a useful body of data, news, and commentary. What irks traditional media is that an effort like OTB has very little to lose. Let's consider that producing good journalism starts with three things: credibility, ability, and distribution. The credibility of the traditional media isn't what it once was and with the Internet, distribution is trivial. And now, for minimal cost, OTB is doing the practice, practice, practice that will refine the journalistic abilities of a great mass of people. That's a tough pill for traditional media to swallow. Definitely check out the NYT profile -- it's a good read. But they couldn't get a picture where OTB director Amanda Michel doesn't look like she wants to wring intern Ben Mishkin's neck? Related: (1) Open Secrets has launched a citizen journalism contest around money and politics and (2) NYU's Jay Rosen needs all of 26 seconds to explain what the term "citizen journalism" means exactly.

  • The Nation's Ari Melber reports on the combined efforts of Color of Change, MoveOn, and hip hop superstar Nas to bring attention to Fox News' record on race, like how the channel used the chryon "baby mama" in reference to Michelle Obama.

  • Part of new journalism is relying upon the locals, right? (Hmm, that punk Tom Wolfe kinda has dibs on the term "new journalism." How about we coin a phrase right now? Maybe "evolved journalism"? You got a better idea that captures a new and improved way of doing more interactive, participatory journalism? Drop it in the comments.) You may have heard that Barack Obama is in Berlin today. And with the German blogosphere not exactly hopping, we popped on over to the website of local newspaper Die Zeit to check in on on their on-the-ground reporting. Only problem: it's all in German, and we don't speak it. These are the moments for which the universe created Babelfish. Translation: "Luck-inspired ten thousands Barack Obama celebrate as their new hope before the citizens of Berlin victory column; most of all they would select it also to the US president. On the other hand America experts put their forehead to warn into consider-heavy folds and of the Obama intoxication." Ich verstehe nicht.

  • You might be surprised to see who turns up in this video collection of "card carrying liberals" put together by the Living Liberally team. Air America's Sam Seder's a self-proclaimed liberal! Perhaps a bit more noteworthy, Larry Lessig is too...

  • Lingo Watch: Tradmed n. Short for "traditional media," a netroots phrasing that seems to be replacing "mainstream media." Not entirely new, but gaining in popularity since Markos Moulitsas proclaimed that the term MSM "is like nails on a chalkboard to me."

The Candidates on the Web

  • We've got your daily dose of "John McCain is lagging behind on the Internet," this one from the Boston Globe. Quoted is PdF's Micah Sifry: "If it came out that the next president of the United States doesn't know how to drive a car . . . people would be like, 'That's weird, what's wrong with him?'" Driving cars? Don't they have people for that?
  • Still, let's consider that who's winning the online arms race might depend on which weapons we're tracking. Conventional wisdom says that the left is be better at harnessing the web's power to build and strengthen social ties. But, suggests the Next Right's Soren Dayton, the right is ahead when it comes to the nuts and bolts of winning elections -- targeting voters, GOTV, and so on. As evidence, Soren points to yesterday's Washington Post profile of RNC e-director Cyrus Krohn, particularly the web magic Cyrus to use to bring older voters to the polls for now Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal. Also riffing off that WaPo profile of Cyrus, TechRepublican's David All doubts that we'll see a significant shift of campaign resources to the web this cycle. (For what it's worth, Barack Obama just dropped $5 million on Olympic TV ad buys -- which conveniently enough will put him on the airwaves right up to the opening day of the Democratic convention.)

TechCongress and Beyond

  • Men might have been early adopters when it comes to blogs, but women are catching up in their consumption, suggests some new polling numbers out from Pew.

  • How to deal with your commenter problem sparkling opportunity. Politico's Daniel Libit surveys popular blogs and other bloggy sites to figure out how they make the most of those who offer commentary on their content. An interesting takeaway: commenters on bigger, more impersonal sites might feel they need to be a bit more vituperative just to get their voices heard. Libit notes that, in the end, some solo bloggers like the Atlantic's Marc Ambinder might decide that having comments isn't worth the bother.

In Case You Missed It...

You're heading out to catch some rays and some waves, and you're asking yourself, "now, what books can I bring to further educate myself about technology's impact on politics?" Andrew Rasiej and Micah Sifry anticipate your needs; check out their beach reading list over on Politico.