Sunday, March 22, 2009

Bloggers to Moderate Gubernatorial Debate

Bryan Scrafford at Left of the Hill breaks the news:

There has been a big development in the Democratic primary for Governor of Virginia as I’m hearing that all three candidates are going to be taking part in a debate to be held at Virginia Tech on April 29 at 7:30pm. A source involved in the preparations at Virginia Tech said the debate will be hosted by several national blogs including the Huffington Post and Fire Dog Lake, as well as Virginia’s Not Larry Sabato. Not only will these blogs have representatives selecting the questions, but the debate will be moderated by Ben Tribbett of Not Larry Sabato and Arianna Huffington.

The debate will have a fairly standard format as it is scheduled to last 90 minutes with each candidate giving two minute long opening statements, followed by a question/answer section, and finally an opportunity for the candidates to give a closing statement. What makes this debate slightly different then the typical fair that we get, especially in a gubernatorial primary, is that all of the questions will be coming in from new media sources (twitter, youtube, and other similar programs) and the panel selecting the questions to be asked at the debate will also be made up of bloggers. Furthermore, I’m hearing that it will be webcast on the Huffington Post which means that people who cannot make it out to Virginia Tech will also be given an opportunity to watch the debate.
Lowell at Blue Virginia puts it in some historical context for the blogosphere:

To my knowledge, this is the first time that a gubernatorial debate has been held by bloggers. If so, it's another breakthrough in the continued rise of the netroots, and also in the relative decline of the traditional media. Today, increasingly, "regular" citizens are asking questions directly to politicians, posting the responses on their blogs and YouTube channels, acting as "citizen journalists." Congratulations to Arianna HuffingtonJane Hamsher (I presume she'll be the FireDogLake rep, since she's a superb journalist, excellent in front of a camera), and Ben Tribbett of NLS. This debate should certainly garner a great deal of old AND new media attention, and I'm definitely looking forward to April 29!

P.S. It will be interesting to see how the Washington Post, which studiously avoids crediting or sourcing the blogs, handles this one. I suppose they could simply not cover it at all, but my guess is that they'll just have to suck it up this time. Score one for the bloggers! :)
I agree with most of that of that -- I'm not sure it says anything about the relative decline of traditional media, since this isn't a zero-sum game in my book -- but I quibble.

Also, I'm glad to see Ben included. At Creigh's blogger dinner, Ben did a great job questioning Creigh, and notwithstanding the notorious reputation of NLS -- some of it deserved, much of it not -- I'm confident he will do a fair job. Also, I would note that while NLS has been in the middle of some controversy this primary, for the most part it has been even-handed in dispensing praise, criticism and mockery to all the candidates.

1 comment:

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