Thursday, 18 February 2016

Politics 2.0 and the Thirst for Content

In an earlier entry in this journal I compared Barack Obama's site to Hillary Clinton's. When I wrote that article, Obama had not yet secured the nomination.

Now that he has, I am wondering if his landslide victory had anything to do with his campaign's approach to new (nontraditional) media. The campaign seems to have a firm understanding of Web 2.0 practices, and social networking tools. is just one aspect of a very well-oiled media machine, another perhaps equally important aspect, is the campaign's YouTube channel. There you can view anything from the candidate's appearances on talk shows, to fully unedited speeches, to the campaign's video team's behind the scenes look on the campaign trail. They have posted over 1000 videos, and they are getting tens of thousands of hits a day.

My generation spends more time on YouTube than on traditional media outlets, and it seems like this 24-hour soundbite news that television networks have been shoving down our throats for years, just doesn't interest us.

We grew up in the age of the soundbite, the age of the slogan, the age of 24-hour news coverage, and it's as if we are tired of it. We don't want soundbites, we want content. Clear, unedited, real content. Obama's campaign doesn't only understand that desire, they are supplying us with the kind of content we crave.

Last night I went to a very interesting talk with Arun Chaudhary, director of video field production for Barack Obama. The evening was hosted by frog design, and moderated by Ellen McGirt (who had just written an incredible article for Fast Company called "The Brand Called Obama"). The room was filled with about 80 people, mostly non-traditional media folks.

Chaudhary talked a bit about how the campaign's media team works, the type of people involved, and how easy it is for them to get content out really quickly, since Obama trusts their judgement and expertise.

How incredible...

In most "creative" work places where you have to deal with clients, there is so much management, legal, and red tape in place, getting something approved can take weeks, sometimes even months. So Barack Obama sounds like the ideal client if you ask me, and it shows in the quality of content that's coming out of that campaign.

Chaudhary came from a solid, academic film background. Before he became Obama's director of field production he was adjunct professor of film at NYU. I think a filmmaker's approach to news coverage is inherently different than anyone working in the traditional media news outlets, and it's quite interesting that Obama's campaign chose a filmmaker to take on that role.

As his role was beginning to take shape, and he was traveling back and forth from Chicago to Iowa covering the Iowa caucus, they were pumping out hundreds of videos in a matter of weeks. At first they were posting little clips from Obama's speeches or town hall meetings on YouTube, but pretty soon people were demanding more content. The Obama campaign was surprised at the amount of people that kept asking for the full video.

So they took their cue from social-networking and Web 2.0, and gave the people what they wanted.
Frog posted some fragments from the night here.

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