Saturday, July 21, 2007

Converging Media--Video and Web Based Political Punditry

This morning Larry Johnson's No Quarter has a comment entitled War On Hillary discussing Eric Edelman's absurd letter to Hillary Clinton accusing her of giving aid and comfort to the "enemy." In Edelman's fevered brain it is treason for a United States Senator, who happens to be a leading candidate for President, to merely ask if the DoD has made any contingency plans for pulling troops out of Iraq. It is a great post, made better by Larry's insertion of a Keith Olbermann Special Comment on the same subject. Give his post a read, then watch the video. Olbermann, as always, is passionate and right on target.

I don't know where it started, maybe with the women at Firedoglake, but more and more often, all across the web, short video clips are being combined with traditional political commentary. Most of the smaller blogs rely on YouTube for their clips. Some of the larger sites create their own, but don't seem to be afraid to embed YouTube clips when available. Nearly everybody gives appropriate attribution and rarely are the clips more than a couple of minutes long. The shorter the better. Like YouTube, ComedyCentral puts some limitations on the use of their clips, but both the YouTube and ComedyCentral limitations are reasonable and not hard for most political bloggers to meet. It would seem that combining video with punditry is a win-win for everybody.

There is resistance to combining video with traditional written punditry. I think Kevin Drum would admit that he is just not much of a video person. Except for still pictures of a few cats, you are not likely see anything but the written word at The Washington Monthly. Video is so, so Huffington Post or, increasingly, Talking Points Memo.

Most of the writers here at WTWC are Political Animal alumni. They love Kevin's work. Some of our writers are professional journalists writing what they believe, not what they have been assigned. Like Kevin Drum, himself a professional journalist, they have a passion for the written word and like Drum, they are purists. They rarely include photographs, let alone videos, with their comments.

Combining video with written commentary is a technique I have been using for the last few months. For example, on Thursday I wrote Pentagon Simulations Suggest Al Qaeda Take Over Of Iraq Unlikely If United States Withdraws which includes a link to a long Washington Post story by Karen DeYoung and Thomas E. Ricks, and a video clip of a Ricks interview. While most of my posts don't include video, where possible I try to link to a short clip. The clips are usually intended to reinforce what I have written.

I am convinced mixed media is the future of web based political punditry. Neither WTWC, nor The Washington Monthly is a literary journal. Everyone who blogs on politics, from the legendary Juan Cole, through the powerful Larry Johnson and on down to local upstart Todd Elkins are in the business of getting their story out in the most powerful way available. Mixing video with the written word can be very powerful. It combines the best of newspaper and television.

In a future comment I am going to talk more about why I believe it is becoming increasingly important for Congressmen and other news makers to include short video clips with traditional press release materials. I am convinced that Democrats, who often complain they thwarted by the handful of gatekeepers in the MSM, can cheaply take their message directly to an important target audience--you and me.