Thursday, December 18, 2008

Bypassing mainstream media

In a story about the Obama administration having plans to bypass the mainstream media by posting directly to YouTube, reference is made to a current State Department blog with the unfortunate name of Dipnote. Coulda thought about it a little more, I'd say.

As it turns out, Sean McCormack, the State Department spokesman, is ahead of the game on the whole skip-the-press maneuver. Mr. McCormack started filing posts from far-flung regions more than a year ago during trips with his boss, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Of course, one would have to know about the blog to read it.

That was bad enough, as far as reporters covering the State Department were concerned. But reporters got even more ticked off when, Mr. McCormack gave readers of the State Department blog, Dipnote, a firsthand account in September of the historic meeting between Ms. Rice and the Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi in Tripoli even before he filled in reporters traveling with him on what had happened.

Wish I'd known about it; the blog, that is. A quick look at it now shows, inte second entry, a familiar figure:

Question of the Week: Where Should the Secretary Make Her Final Official Visit? Posted by DipNote Bloggers on Dec 12, 2008 - 03:11 PM Secretary Rice walks up stairs into a plane as she leaves Rawalpindi, Pakistan, Dec. 4, 2008. [AP] During her tenure, Secretary Rice has traveled over one million miles in 88 days to 83 countries (as of September 2008). Secretary Rice has said, “There is no greater honor than representing your country; it’s the best job in government.”

Where should the Secretary make her final official visit? Why?

Okay: it's cute. Nice pic of Condy climbing the airplane's stairs (notice the reflection of, no, the two people in front of the jet engine). But I don't think that the media has to worry too much about this blog becoming a major news outlet for too many people.

And finally, on Oct. 31, came the icing on the cake, when Mr. McCormack unveiled “Briefing 2.0” in the press briefing room of the State Department. —Standing before flat screen television monitors and high-tech looking computer screens Mr. McCormack didn’t take questions from the press, but — gasp! — from the public. And then he put it on YouTube.

Gasp, indeed. Wonder how many dweebs were watching.

It’s not clear yet if Mr. Obama will ever take to YouTube to take questions on his timetable for withdrawal from Iraq. But that issue, interestingly, did come up on Tuesday when Mr. Obama met and held a sort-of press conference with a bunch of grade-school students at Dodge Renaissance Academy in Chicago. (Mr. Obama took more questions from the pint-sized group than he had done from reporters in a press conference just a few minutes earlier.)

He's already acting presidential, going straight to the people.

Mr. Obama’s aides do say that they intend to make full use of the millions of email address that they have collected over the course of the campaign. The Obama-Biden Web site, has an “open for questions” spot that was supposed to be a “two-way dialogue between the transition team and the community,” according to the Web site.

Some of the questions on the “open for questions” site on Wednesday:

Q: “Will you lift the ban on Stem Cell research in your first 100 days in office?”--James M., Nashville, TN:

A: “President-elect Obama is a strong supporter of Federal funding for responsible stem cell research and he has pledged to reverse President Bush’s restrictions.

I'll wait and see.

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