Tuesday, December 13, 2005
BOOKNOTE: Joe Trippi: "The revolution will not be televised"
"The Revolution Will Not Be Televised," by Joe Trippi
Reviewed by Sara Smith
Joe Trippi served as Howard Dean's campaign manager when he ran for the
Democratic nomination in 2004. He currently works as a political and
technology consultant. He wrote The Revolution Will Not Be Televised after
Howard Dean conceded from the 2004 presidential election. The book
recounts his extraordinary experiences working on the Dean campaign and
other presidential campaigns and concludes with his own personal message
to the American people - that message being "You Have the Power."
Trippi asserts that the American people have been lulled into a political
passivity since televisions were introduced into their homes in the late
1950s. He cites a study which asserts that "every hour of television
watching translates to a 10 percent drop in civic involvement." Not
surprisingly, with Americans watching more television than ever before,
the percentage of people showing up at the polls is lower than ever.
Trippi watches television - he is an admitted Sopranos and Law & Order
fanatic. He thinks TV is great - for entertainment.
He believes television causes people to disengage and become lazy. The box
tells us what to think, what to buy, how to act, etc. He sees the Internet
as doing the opposite - we tell the search engine what to look for.
Internet users are active - television viewers are passive. He sees the
Internet Revolution as a backlash against 50 years of political
uninvolvement. And, with the way our politics have gone in the last 50
years, we are paying the price for passivity.
For various reasons, the old media has fallen down on the job. And for a
long time the public could do nothing about it. But now we have the tool
we need to restore democracy to this nation - the Internet. The Internet
is the last hope for democracy. Some say it has ushered in the Information
Age, Trippi believes it is the Empowerment Age. Think about it ... through
the Internet we have access to all kinds of information and we have a
place to get together and discuss important issues and create change.
Old institutions had a top-down dynamic - those at the top hoarded
information, told us how to run our lives. The Internet allows that
information to be equally distributed. And in this day and age,
information is power. So, if we all have equal access to information and
the Internet allows us to share a free-flow of information, what we are
really doing is sharing power. The Internet returns the power to the
people. All we have to do is take it.
In the beginning when Internet access was more expensive and less
accessible to the average American, the Republicans or political right had
the strongest voice on the Net. But as time went on, accessibility
increased and costs decreased and more middle- to lower-class Americans
logged on. And, now, 75 percent of Americans have Internet access. It is
the tool that has aided the American people in becoming involved in
politics again. The September 11th terrorist attacks awakened young
Two-thirds of young adults polled said they are more likely to participate
in politics and voting because of the attacks. Many polled said they
wanted to make a difference but didn't know how and felt powerless. Trippi
saw these youths as the swing voters. He knew they were silently wishing
for a way to engage in civic affairs again and he gave them a venue in
which to do that.
Trippi decided to work on Howard Dean's 2004 presidential campaign because
he respected Dean for sticking his neck out and publicly criticizing
President Bush. Dean's stance mirrored Trippi's beliefs about what this
country needed to do to get back on track. Dean's message was simple: Take
back the country and give it to the people. Take the power back from the
politicians and place it in the hands of the people.
Trippi knew that Dean was more than a long shot - he had less than 500
supporters one year before the Democratic caucus. He had no experience
running a campaign and a ridiculously small staff. Yet, something in
Trippi connected with Dean and he could not keep himself away from this
campaign. He signed on to work as Dean's campaign manager and moved to
Vermont where he worked alongside a group of Dean's insiders who had been
with him for years as he was Vermont's governor.
Immediately, Trippi urged Dean who was a self-proclaimed technophobe to
start a web log. The blog drew thousands to Vermont - Trippi realized
there were thousands of people out there wanting to make a difference they
just didn't know how. The blog (and the Internet) gave them this
opportunity. And so they came. Trippi got a Internet management team
They consisted of Gray Brooks, a 19 year old who researched Dean on the
Internet, decided he was "a good man" and drove to Vermont to volunteer
for his campaign; Mat Gross, a 31-year-old, married blogger from Utah, who
didn't even pack any clothes, just hopped on a plane for Vermont to help
the campaign; Zephyr Teachout, a young death penalty lawyer. The team set
up a deal with the company who ran meetup.com to start organizing Dean
supporters on that site.
The site created a place for Dean supporters to get together and organize
a meeting once a month to discuss the campaign. At its height, the site
drew 170,000 supporters. Eventually, the supporters took control of the
campaign and it became their movement. The monthly meetings were drawing
so many supporters that meetup.com could not find venues large enough to
In mid-May 2003, eight months before the Iowa Caucus, a very slow time in
campaigning, Dean arrived in Seattle, Washington, to attend the monthly
meeting organized on meetup.com. Trippi was concerned there wouldn't be a
lot of supporters there this early in the campaign season. His concerns
were valid but he underestimated the support of the Dean movement - there
were 1,200 people there to support Dean. While Kerry and Edwards and the
other Democratic candidates held small gatherings and gave away food to
compel supporters to attend, Dean was talking to well over one thousand
supporters who showed up without the promise of food or anything.
Dean supporters came through in another tight spot. When Trippi and Dean
were faced with the conflict of whether or not to accept federal funds,
they turned the decision over to their Internet supporters who clearly
voted to forgo the funds and responded by donating $4.5 million in one
day! For the most part, mainstream media did not take much notice of the
extraordinary support Dean was drawing from the Internet. Trippi was
criticized by those in mainstream media - he was called an "eccentric who
wastes precious campaign time e-mailing obscure bloggers and hanging out
with political oddballs."
The Dean meet-ups were charactericized as "the bar scene from Star Wars."
They were missing the point - possibly the biggest story of the decade.
The campaign had drawn 170,000 supporters from the Internet. It was a
grassroots effort of extraordinary proportions. Not only did the
mainstream media miss the point, but the other candidates did as well.
They knew Dean was doing something right so they started up their own
sites as well.
But they approached their blogs the same way they approached their TV ads
- as a way to talk down to the public, provide them with only the
information they wanted them to know and called for no feedback or
comments from their supporters. Trippi said they missed the boat.
He quotes Thomas Jefferson "Unless the mass retains sufficient control
over those entrusted with the powers of their government, these will be
perverted to their own oppression, and to the perpetuation of wealth and
power in the individuals and their families selected for the trust." We
see this happening with the Bush administration (and other Republican
administrations before it) who get their campaign money from $2,000 checks
from the top one-quarter of 1 percent of the wealthiest Americans. Bush
raised $125 million in his campaign in 2000 - 59,279 donations of $1,000.
Charles Lewis, executive director for the nonpartisan Center for Public
Integrity wrote, "A contribution check of $1,000 isn't something the
average American can write; most often, those who open their checkbooks
are lawyers, lobbyists, or the vested economic interests they represent
who want something in return from the government." Trippi asserts that,
"in effect, 60,000 rich white guys determined who would be president for
the rest of us three hundred million people." Trippi goes on to describe
how the lobbyists who donated the most money to Bush's campaign were
appointed high-ranking positions in Bush's administration or somehow
benefited monetarily from their donations.
As we all know, Dean did not become our Democrat nominee in 2004. He went
down in flames in Idaho. In fact, in his book, Trippi says that the
beginning of the end for Dean started when Al Gore endorsed the governor.
That put Dean in the spotlight and he was attacked from all sides by all
three of his opponents. He was attacked in the worst possible way - with a
Negative campaign ads are the most damaging attacks because they reach
millions of people and have a profound effect on their perception of a
candidate. Gephardt and Kerry both went after Dean and his numbers dropped
dramatically in Iowa; by the time they got to New Hampshire it was all
over. Trippi quit the campaign and went home to sleep for a year.
Even though Dean lost, Trippi sees the campaign as a huge success. Dean's
campaign involved the public on a grassroots level. The response from the
public energized Trippi and he sees this as possibly the last generation
under the thumb of television, and into the active world of the Internet.
In the final chapter of the book,
Trippi moves away from the Dean campaign and speaks directly to the reader
about how the Internet is the tool we have to embrace to bring
participatory democracy back to this country. He lists examples of how
this is already going on. For example, at Strom Thurman's 100th birthday
party in 2002, Mississippi Senator Trent Lott gave a speech in which
stunned the audience with a racist comment. The next day, the major
newspapers and broadcast news outlets did not mention the comment in their
coverage. They claimed it did not fit in with the tone of the birthday
party and rendered the comment irrelevant.
Only one media outlet mentioned the outrageous comment - ABC News. Five
years ago, that would have been the end of the story. But the blogosphere
picked the ball up right where the media dropped it. Two of the Net's most
influential blogs jumped on the story and the controversy and conversation
about Lott's comment spread across the Internet. More traditional websites
picked up the story and Slate put out an 1980 speech in which Lott said
essentially the same thing.
By December 20, Lott resigned his leadership position. All because of a
handful of bloggers. Throughout the book, Trippi refers to our founding
fathers and their 200-year-old wish for this country. He quotes James
Madison: Knowledge will forever govern, and a people who mean to be their
own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.
He closes with this: "This thing that connects us is more than a mesh of
wires and optic links, more than a world of web sites and blogs and e-mail
addresses. We are connected by our birthright as Americans and by the very
fiber of democracy .. Together, I believe we can accomplish anything, if
we just keep one idea in mind. One principle. Four simple words that still
echo across America: You Have the Power.
Sunday, December 11, 2005
TELEVISION: Networks reinvent TV news for a digital age with blogs/streams
The St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times
Published December 10, 2005
Networks reinvent TV news for a digital age
It will take more than new anchors to find fresh viewers, networks agree. But will it take Web logs? Cell phones? IPods?
By CHASE SQUIRES, Times TV columnist
TV networks hungry for more and younger viewers have introduced ripples of change in recent months that are turning into
a wave extending far beyond the tube.
While 27-million viewers tune in one of the major network nightly news shows, their ranks are aging and dwindling. So the
TV news business is realizing it will need far more than just the nightly news to survive in the digital age.
In the year since NBC's anchor Tom Brokaw became the first of the three longtime anchors to step down, networks have
raced to provide more live broadcasts, Internet feeds, Web logs, and cellular phone video bites.
ABC's World News Tonight this week replaced the late Peter Jennings with two anchors charged with multitasking their way
around the digital world. Announcing the appointments Monday of Elizabeth Vargas, 43, and Bob Woodruff, 44, ABC also
acknowledged the decades-old way of delivering the news has to change.
"This announcement is about ensuring the future of World News Tonight for the next 20 years," the show's executive
producer Jon Banner said in a phone interview. "More and more people are gathering and getting information online on
digital devices, on cell pones, on PlayStation Portables, on iPods. We have to adapt to that world. ... At the moment we
need to be in as many places and as many devices as possible."
CNN this week began live streaming news broadcasts to the Internet. CBS on Wednesday announced its first venture into
cell phones, sealing a deal with Verizon's V CAST service to deliver entertainment, breaking news and bits from the CBS
Evening News and The Early Show.
Top-rated NBC, helmed since Brokaw's retirement by Brian Williams, 46, has found success with Williams' popular blog. On
Tuesday, Williams' blog post exemplified the personal, intimate contact with news consumers allowed by the new media.
In apparent exasperation over a tough news meeting, he leveled with readers about how hard it is to design a nightly
newscast: "This intended-to-be-humorous delusion of grandeur on our part has some truth to it: I can't think of the last
broadcast we did that exactly equaled on the air what was agreed to at 2:30 p.m."
* * *
After they start their new jobs Jan. 3, Vargas and Woodruff won't only be on from 6:30 to 7 p.m. The new model has the
anchors delivering daily Web casts and three broadcasts in succession to deliver live news to most of the country,
including the West Coast, which has relied on taped feeds from New York. There are plans for frequent travel, blogging,
splitting the anchors between the field and the studio, plus special reports and Vargas' continued work hosting the
prime-time newsmagazine program 20/20.
Not everything will stick, Banner said. No one at any network can predict what will catch on, but like others, ABC isn't
about to risk missing the next big thing: "We've got to be in it to win it," he said.
Banner said his network isn't making changes just to lure younger viewers. But the commercials for prescription
medications aired during any network's nightly news is a good gauge of who's still watching: seniors.
How bad is it? Evening news ratings have dropped 59 percent in the past 30 years, and the average viewer is 60 years old,
according to the Project for Excellence in Journalism.
ABC and the rest are hunting for youthful eyes.
That's solid thinking, said Richard Wald, a professor of media and society at Columbia University and a former ABC News
senior vice president. Young people have never been the main viewers of the evening news, but in the past, they could be
relied on to tune in once they got old enough to care more about politics, the economy, world affairs and other evening
news fodder. Today, viewers still may care about such matters, but they can turn to the Internet or cable TV for their
information, when it's convenient.
"The problem today is that young people don't watch television news, and as they get older, they don't watch television
news. It's a real hard-to-disguise problem," Wald said. "What is the solution? It isn't simply to do more of the same,
you've got to do something slightly different. Exactly what is it? Nobody's perfectly sure (but) if the audience isn't
where they are producing the news, go to where the audience is."
As technology advances, finding the audience is not as easy as the old choice between print, radio or television.
"If we all knew what device was going to be the most effective way of getting content five years from now, we could
retire," Banner said. "Everybody is competing to get the attention of people and get them to use their device to get
Even TV itself is providing competition nobody could have anticipated just a short time ago - unlikely player Comedy
Central delivers a form of news through its Daily Show that many young adults swear is all the news they want or need.
* * *
So how well are those ripples of change meeting their target audiences so far? Melinda McAdams, a University of Florida
professor of journalism technologies, adores Williams' NBC blog, called The Daily Nightly. But otherwise, she and her
students have been unimpressed with most of what the networks and the big cable operations put on the Internet.
Streaming old-style TV news onto the Internet changes the delivery mode, but not the content, making it pointless, she
Her students, young news consumers, still want someone behind the scenes to gather, organize and present news in clear,
easy-to-access packages. What they don't want is reporters and anchors inserting themselves between viewer and story.
"You have the subjects of the story talk in their own voice. (Students) like that. They think it's so cool that there's
not one of these geeks with a microphone talking to us," McAdams said. "They feel involved when they hear this person
tell their own story. These kinds of stories actually reach you on a human level."
An anchor's role could be to provide background context and explain how stories were gathered and how the organization
made its editorial decisions, McAdams said.
The news content also has to be constantly updated, said University of Florida professor David Ostroff, head of the
school's telecommunications department. Waiting until 6:30 p.m. to hear what happened in the past 24 hours isn't good
enough for today's news consumer, who wants immediacy, but also wants it organized and prioritized.
And that, Ostroff said, is why traditional news organizations are still so important. They just have to update their
Wald recently moderated a Stanford University panel on the future of network news, featuring the heads of ABC, CBS and
NBC news. He said he felt encouraged, because he saw they understand they must change their methods in order to keep
delivering the news. Now, they have to figure out how.
"There may be a 15-year-old girl in a garage in Wisconsin who has figured out how to take instant messaging and combine
it with photographs from a cellular phone, but until she has a business model and delivers that product, we don't know
about it," he said.
"You're in a world where the unusual is happening on a fairly regular basis. ... Maybe we are all groping, (but) I think
people have a reasonable sense that things are in flux right now, but they won't stay in flux forever. We will wind up
being the children of a different way of doing things."
Chase Squires can be reached at 727 893-8739 or email@example.com His blog is www.sptimes.com/blogs/tv
[Last modified December 10, 2005, 01:13:47]
The article above is copyrighted material, the use of which may not have specifically authorized by the copyright owner. The material is made available in an effort to advance understanding of political, economic, democracy, First Amendment, technology, journalism, community and justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' as provided by Section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Chapter 1, Section 107, the material above is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this blog for purposes beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.
A Little Sleuthing Unmasks Writer of Wikipedia Prank - New York Times (fwd)
The New York Times
December 11, 2005
A Little Sleuthing Unmasks Writer of
By KATHARINE Q. SEELYE
It started as a joke and ended up as a shot heard round the Internet, with
the joker losing his job and Wikipedia, the
online encyclopedia, suffering a blow to its credibility.
A man in Nashville has admitted that, in trying to shock a colleague with
a joke, he put false information into a
Wikipedia entry about John Seigenthaler Sr., a former editor of The
Tennessean in Nashville.
Brian Chase, 38, who until Friday was an operations manager at a small
delivery company, told Mr. Seigenthaler on Friday
that he had written the material suggesting that Mr. Seigenthaler had been
involved in the assassinations of John and
Robert Kennedy. Wikipedia, a nonprofit venture that is the world's biggest
encyclopedia, is written and edited by
thousands of volunteers.
Mr. Seigenthaler discovered the false entry only recently and wrote about it
in an op-ed article in USA Today, saying he
was especially annoyed that he could not track down the perpetrator because
of Internet privacy laws. His plight touched
off a debate about the reliability of information on Wikipedia - and by
extension the entire Internet - and the
difficulty in holding Web sites and their users accountable, even when
someone is defamed.
In a confessional letter to Mr. Seigenthaler, Mr. Chase said he thought
Wikipedia was a "gag" Web site and that he had
written the assassination tale to shock a co-worker, who knew of the
Seigenthaler family and its illustrious history in
"It had the intended effect," Mr. Chase said of his prank in an interview.
But Mr. Chase said that once he became aware
last week through news accounts of the damage he had done to Mr.
Seigenthaler, he was remorseful and also a little scared
of what might happen to him.
Mr. Chase also found that he was slowly being cornered in cyberspace, thanks
to the sleuthing efforts of Daniel Brandt,
57, of San Antonio, who makes his living as a book indexer. Mr. Brandt has
been a frequent critic of Wikipedia and
started an anti-Wikipedia Web site (www.wikipedia-watch.org) in September
after reading what he said was a false entry
Using information in Mr. Seigenthaler's article and some online tools, Mr.
Brandt traced the computer used to make the
Wikipedia entry to the delivery company in Nashville. Mr. Brandt called the
company and told employees there about the
Wikipedia problem but was not able to learn anything definitive.
Mr. Brandt then sent an e-mail message to the company, asking for
information about its courier services. A response bore
the same Internet Protocol address that was left by the creator of the
Wikipedia entry, offering further evidence of a
A call by a New York Times reporter to the delivery company on Thursday made
employees nervous, Mr. Chase later told Mr.
Seigenthaler. On Friday, Mr. Chase hand-delivered a letter to Mr.
Seigenthaler's office, confessing what he had done, and
later they talked at length.
Mr. Chase told him that the Seigenthaler name had come up at work and that
he had popped it into a search engine and was
led to Wikipedia, where, he said, he was surprised that anyone could make an
Mr. Chase wrote: "I am truly sorry to have offended you, sir. Whatever fame
comes to me from this will be ill-gotten
Mr. Seigenthaler said Mr. Brandt was "a genius" for tracking down Mr. Chase.
He said he "was not after a pound of flesh"
and would not take Mr. Chase to court.
Mr. Chase resigned from his job because, he said, he did not want to cause
problems for his company. Mr. Seigenthaler
urged Mr. Chase's boss to rehire him, but Mr. Chase said that, so far, this
had not happened.
Mr. Chase said that as Mr. Brandt and the news media were closing in
and he realized how much he had hurt Mr.
Seigenthaler, he decided that stepping forward was "the right thing to do."
Mr. Seigenthaler, founder of the First Amendment Center, said that as a
longtime advocate of free speech, he found it
awkward to be tracking down someone who had exercised that right.
"I still believe in free expression," he said. "What I want is
Jimmy Wales, who founded Wikipedia, said that the site would make more
information about users available to make it
easier to lodge complaints. But he portrayed the error as something that
fell through the cracks, not a sign of a
systemic problem. "We have to continually evaluate whether our controls are
enough," he said.
* Copyright 2005The New York Times Company
This article above is copyrighted material, the use of which may not have specifically authorized by the copyright owner. The material is made available in an effort to advance understanding of political, economic, democracy, First Amendment, technology, journalism, community and justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' as provided by Section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Chapter 1, Section 107, the material above is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this blog for purposes beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.