Wednesday, January 9, 2008

New journalism, old politics

Given how badly the mainstream media performed during the past week in predicting — and virtually celebrating — the demise of Hillary Clinton, here are a couple of alternatives.

The first is Purple States, a citizen-journalism initiative in which ordinary people are traveling the country to interview presidential candidates, as well as actual voters, about their concerns and how the political system can address them. Here's a story on Purple States that appeared recently in the New Haven Independent, in itself an interesting new-media entity.

Where are the jobs in such a venture? Behind the camera. Although the citizens are the stars of Purple States, in fact, a heavy dose of professional journalism is needed to generate fully edited video reports and to help frame the stories in ways that are worthwhile for viewers. Purple States is a good example of pro-am collaboration.

The second is Political Lunch, a very different idea compared to Purple States. Political Lunch is a project put together by two young, entrepreneurial journalists who are carving out a niche for themselves outside the traditional media.

The site was featured in a Jan. 5 story in the New York Times on the expanding market for short videos that people can watch at noontime while they're eating lunch at their desks. Unlike Purple States, Political Lunch could be criticized for being as superficial as the mainstream media to which it is an alternative. But it's a good demonstration of the kinds of opportunities that are open to young journalists willing to try something new.

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