Published by Jeff Jarvis April 11th, 2007 Tags: prezconference, romney, show, spotlight, youtube.
I got a sneak preview today of YouTube's new initiative trying to spark the dialogue between candidates and voters. Tonight they launched Spotlight, which each week gives a candidate the opportunity to ask the voters a question that will be highlighted on the news & politics page. We are to respond via videos on YouTube. At the end of the week, the candidates promise to respond with their thoughts, on video, on YouTube. Nine of the candidates (Romney, Clinton, Edwards, Obama, Biden, Giuliani, Hunter, Kucinich, McCain, Richardson, Paul) have signed up; the others (Dodd, Huckabee, Thompson) are MIA. The YouTube effort is, as they acknowledged to me today, pretty much the mirror image of our PrezConference initiative here at PrezVid: We invite you to ask the candidates questions. YouTube is inviting the candidates to ask you questions. Cool. However the dialogue starts, let's use the power of YouTube and the internet to start it. YouTube's first question comes from Mitt Romney. I had to chortle at his videeo:
It's as if he's talking to the slow Americans of YouTube. And his question is rather insipid: What do we think the greatest challenge facing America is? I'd rather hear what he thinks that greatest challenge is and how he can assure us we know which Mitt we're getting: the one we see today or the one we saw in '94 (which was the one I liked better, by the way). So, just like a New Yorker, I'll answer his question with a question:
Note that the candidates can approve the video responses that go up with their videos.
I spoke with Steve Grove, the news and politics editor at YouTube, about Spotlight. He said that he doesn't see this so much as a conversation but as an opportunity for candidates to "engage and mobilize" their voters. This is the conversation they initiate. And that is how candidates have seen the internet so far. That's how Howard Dean used it, to motivate and move his fans. Steve said that he, too, wants to encourage more interaction. YouTube, he argues, is "the first technological revolution of the 21st century for presidential candidates." Agreed.
So the gauntlet is thrown down. The candidates have the opportunity to speak with voters via YouTube Spotlight and PrezVid PrezConference. Let's start talking.