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A pro’s advice for the candidates

I asked Fred Graver -- who makes real TV at VH1's Best Week Ever and Acceptable.TV -- what advice he has for the candidates and their online video and got a smarter answer to that question than I've gotten yet. And funnier. Because Fred knows funny. Enjoy:

Advice for the candidates

At the Personal Democracy Forum,'s Dina Kaplan gave a great set of advice to the candidates on how to better use online video. She also challenges a party to make its own 24-hour online channel, with comedy, even (a straight line: most of what they do is comedy already). The lighting was horrible, so my shooting makes Dina look like a tanning-bed addict. Ignore that. the advice is great:

PDF: David All

At PDF, I turn the camera on David All of DomeNation and TechRepublican talking about the candidates on video:
* LATER: It's so good, you can watch it twice. All's camera guy shot me shooting All.

Eric Schmidt’s advice for candidates

At the Personal Democracy Forum, I asked Google head Eric Schmidt his advice to the candidates to make better use of YouTube and internet video. He suggests that they put out much more video -- 10 videos with their essential stands on issues, for example -- in the hopes that we pass it around and add our comments as it goes: the viral video campaign. Andrew Rasiej of PDF says that the candidates are acting like they're broadcasting, not talking on the small PC screen, and Schmidt says it's a generational thing.

PDF: Josh Marshall

At the Personal Democracy Forum, I ask Talking Points Memo's Josh Marshall his advice for the candidates to make better use of internet video and he urges them to tear down the fourth wall. He ways we are in "a broad revolt against formalism," which is just a smart way of saying we are sick of being scripted and spun.

PrezVid Show: A response to Edwards

In response to his YouTube spotlight video, I have an entirely frivolous yet still sincere suggestion for Sen. John Edwards that can change his image and the tone of the entire YouTube discussion. I'm frustrated that Edwards and Mitt Romney before him are using the YouTube Spotlight to say nothing and, in fact, to ask us questions when they're the ones who should be answering questions. Edwards -- apparently competing with Barack Obama for the Kennedy mantle -- asks us what we will do to affect change (but without the classy accent and grammar: 'Ask not...'). Well, what change? And we're not the ones asking for votes here, you are. So why don't you tell us what you are going to change and how. I agree with this science teacher who turns the tables on Edwards -- as I did on Romney -- and asked him his own question back. YouTube presents us all with an unprecedented opportunity to discuss issues. Let's not waste it.

PrezVid Show: Trippi speaks

Joe Trippi, who just announced that he's joining the campaign of John Edwards, speaks with Jeff Jarvis at the Radio Television News Directors Association/National Association of Broadcasters convention in Las Vegas, giving you a good idea how he'll use YouTube now that he's back in the presidential race:
If the revolution is not going to be televised, will it be YouTubed? I ask. "It will definitely be YouTubed," Joe says. He argues that the candidates' videos to date are all too scripted and he suggests how they should be using the medium.

YouTube Spotlight launches

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.

PrezVid Show: Grading the candidates

In this week's PrezVid Show, I grade the latest YouTube videos from each of the candidates. It's a sorry lot. As a group, they are still blowing the opportunity to use YouTube to connect with voters in new ways: more personal, direct, informative, fun. The grades: John Edwards -- Best of the bunch. He, like Barack Obama, posts a speech to a labor convention and I expect them both to pull out hard hats and lunch pails. But he's passionate and the video is well-organized, giving us his stump-speech stands on Iraq, the environment, and health care. And he even snarks at Barack Obama. Grade: B Barack Obama -- He keeps making Sally Field videos: They love him, they really love him. At another union confab, Obama shouts to the choir but still says little. Grade: C Hillary Clinton -- She was the teacher's pet with her early videos. But lately, Clinton has been sloughing it off. He latest show just hauls out the hubby to beg for money (and considering her record-blasting take so far, money is the least of her concerns. Grade: C- Dennis Kucinich -- Then again, I have no complaints about Kucinich hauling out his wife to give a report on the Iraq vote on Capitol Hill. Best candidate spouse accent. Best candidate spouse hair. She's quick, newsy, and charming. What's not to like? Grade: B Chris Dodd -- He's the kid in class who tries the hardest but no matter what he does, nobody notices. A's for effort just don't add up. Dodd's attempt to be the man of the people takes him to a firehouse for a conversation with a just-plain voter, but I dare you to tell me what they're saying. Grade: C- Joe Biden -- He gives us his floor speech on Iraq: passionate, angry, but nothing we couldn't see on C-SPAN. Grade: C John McCain -- He's also passionate about Iraq, but from the other side of the floor and the issue, of course. In this quick video, he's trying to convince a bunch of heartlanders that they are about to be attacked by evil ones. That shtick sure isn't working for Bush, but McCain won't let it go. Grade: C Mitt Romney -- It's hard to say which GOP effort is more pathetic. Romney does nothing in this one but shake hands and then shake more hands, which tells us nothing but that he's polite. He's better off talking about his hair. Grade: D Rudy Giuliani -- Pathetic. He puts up audio -- not YouTube's strong suit -- of Steve Forbes' endorsement on Bill Bennett's radio show with a still picture. Grade: D- Ron Paul -- Mind-boggling. The libertarian candidate gives us a 10-minute video -- part 1 of 2 -- that looks like outtakes from Twin Peaks. It's weird but mesmerizing in its goofiness: See Ron Paul's cheesy motel. Watch Ron Paul put the sun visor down.Watch him put the sun visor up. And all this is set to utterly incongruous rock riffs. Grade: F (But this is the paper the teachers hand around in the lounge.) Others not in the show: Bill Richardson -- He's the latest candidate to post a spiel from the SIEU conference. Ho-hum. Grade: C- Duncan Hunter -- He makes the commercials he'll never be able to afford to broadcast. His latest starts with a football metaphor about trade with China. Grade: D+ Tommy Thompson -- He's the rare candidate who announced his candidacy on big, old, broadcast -- Sunday's This Week on ABC -- not even bothering with YouTube. That screams "old fart." Grade: F Chuck Hagel -- Not even on YouTube. On his own site, he puts up a commercial and links to videos starring him elsewhere. Grade: D- Sam Brownback -- He hasn't made a video since his announcement and didn't even put that on YouTube. Grade: F By the way, my own video skills need some work (I'm signing up for a class), so far be it from me to give advice on technique. So I'll do the candidates a favor and send them to Jack Black to learn something about tight editing. To embed this show (please) use this code:

PrezConference: Ask the candidates

Jeff Pulver and Liz Stephans have questions about net neutrality and internet policy for all the candidates.
So here's the idea: We should all ask questions of the candidates and upload them to YouTube with the tag PREZCONFERENCE. This way, we'll see which questions the candidates answer and which they don't. In the UK, Conservative leader David Cameron answers five questions a week, three of them selected by the voters. We need to hear our candidates answer our questions here. So ask away. Here are some more questions I gathered at the VON conference in San Jose: Heather Gold has a story about health care and some questions for Clinton, Edwards, and Obama:
Denise Howell asks John Edwards about internet policy:
Steve Rosenbaum asks Obama about that anti-Hillary, pro-Obama ad:
Jim Long has a question for John Edwards:
More presidential questions from VON here.
* * *
And here is my invitation on video:

PrezVid Show: Questions for McCain

When he started his web site, John McCain -- to his credit -- invited voters to send him questions via YouTube. But after scouring YouTube for videos tagged "mccain," we couldn't find a single question. So as not to make the senator feel too lonely in YouTube, I have three questions of my own that I don't see answered on his site or in his videos:
I urge you all to leave your questions for every one of the candidates. Tag them with the candidate's name and PREZCONFERENCE and we'll share the best here . . . and see which questions the candidates answer, and which ones they don't.

PrezVid Show: Advice for Obama

Some simple PrezVid advice for Barack Obama: Say something.

PrezVid Show: Video and the French election

On the way to Davos, I interviewed Loic Le Meur, pioneering French blogger and now vlogging and interactive advisor to conservative French presidential candidate Nicolas Sarkozy. (Le Meur ran the Le Web conference in Paris and stirred up some dust when he invited Sarkozy and other candidates to speak.) For all the attention American candidates are getting in our YouTube election, the video scene in France's election is far ahead, moreso on Sarkozy's site than on that of his liberal opponent, Segolene Royal (you supply the accents, please). On Sarkozy's, we hear not just from the candidate but from lots of voters. In my interview, Le Meur said he is instituting the means for people to leave Sarkozy questions and vote them up so that he would answer one a day on video (since I don't speak French, I can't tell you what's happening). Le Meur also said that he has two people following the candidate all day, videotaping and vlogging his activities. This, he says, will lead to a new view of the candidate one cannot see on the news because it's hard to put forth a packaged personality that's not real when you're being taped constantly. He also said he's holding weekly pizza parties for bloggers of both camps at the Sarkozy headquarters.

PrezVid Show: Kucinich on Broadway

Dennis Kucinich presented himself to a meeting of AFSCME as the candidate with no strings attached as he went flying around the stage. So how could we resist setting that to music? Watch our choices below. What's your soundtrack for Kucinich on Broadway?
Embed code here: YouTube codes here. Related: Kucinich sings 16 Tons. John Edwards on Broadway (in his dressing room, that is). kucinichsings.jpgedwardsthumb.jpg

PrezVid Show: Advice for McCain

The latest PrezVid show offers advice for John McCain, who unveiled his new web site this weekend with new videos.
McCain's videos may be ready for prime time, but not for YouTube. He doesn't speak directly to those of us who are clicking; he speaks off-camera, as if this were an interview, or he speaks through music and polished production, as if this the video were intended for the giant screens at a nominating convention. He doesn't yet understand that this is a conversation, one-on-one. He appears on an antiseptic, white background, nothing like the homey atmospherics of other candidates' videos; it's as if he's trying out for Star Wars, not the White House. But McCain has one good idea: He solicits questions for his virtual town hall via YouTube. This means that -- unlike in Hillary Clinton's tete-a-tetes -- we will get to see which questions he has the guts to answer and which not. I wonder whether they realized that. * To embed this video on your blog (please) cut-and-paste this code:


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