What went wrong in the Howard Dean campaign, which looked like a winner until voters showed up at the primaries? Maybe Dean was never really ahead, says Clay Shirky. A senior Dean campaign aide agrees: "Even though we looked like an 800-pound gorilla, we were still growing up. We were like the big lanky teenager that looked like a grown man." And why did the media think otherwise?
The Columbia Journalism Review has started up a new web site, the CampaignDesk, devoted to analyzing their coverage of reporters covering the election campaign. According to Steve Lovelady, the site's managing editor, journalists are the site's primary audience. "Most blogs are 99.9 percent opinion," he said. "This is a Web site run by and staffed by responsible journalists whose job is to monitor, critique and praise the campaign press, on a daily basis."
"It's not quite Soviet-style airbrushing, but the Bush administration has been using cyberspace to make some of its own cosmetic touch-ups to history," writes Dana Milbank. "White House officials were steamed when Andrew S. Natsios, the administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, said earlier this year that U.S.
Alternative sources of news such as the Internet have made readers "more assertive and far less in awe of the press" than before, writes Jay Rosen. He highlights the case of Chris Allbritton, a former AP and New York Daily News reporter who became "the Web's first independent war correspondent," raising donor funds to support his weblog reporting on Iraq. "The Internet did the rest," Rosen writes.
"Salam Pax," the already-legendary writer of a Baghdad-based weblog, tells how his site began as "an internet joke with a friend in Jordan" and grew to become the most famous web diary in the world.
"After years as political agnostics, the programmers and engineers who orchestrated the technological revolution of the 1990s are trying to reboot government," writes Joseph Menn. "They have money, earned during the boom. They have time, found since the bust. And they are using their technological savvy to recruit even casual Internet users to their causes." Menn looks at the new "techno-populists" such as MoveOn.org and DigitalConsumer.org.
Breaking the traditional silence of military families during time of war, Susan Schuman is complaining loudly about the government decisions that sent her son Justin to Iraq. "I want them to bring our troops home," she says. "I am appalled at Bush's policies. He has got us into a terrible mess." Soldiers and their families are airing their grievances using a weapon not available during previous wars: the Internet. "Somewhere down the line, we became an occupation force in [Iraqi] eyes.
"The US Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy (ACPD) unveiled a series of new proposals last week to increase America's presence overseas, while recognizing 21st century dangers and federal budget restraints," PR Week writes. "Center-stage was the 'virtual consulate,' a web-based service that facilitates interaction between citizens of remote foreign regions and the US government. Already functioning in a handful of Russian cities, virtual consulates require no physical US presence and perform approximately half the work of a full-service consulate. ...
This spring, the Dr. Pepper company recruited bloggers to talk up "Raging Cow," a flavored-milk drink. "The company hoped to work up Internet buzz about the beverage - and it was OK, by the way, if the bloggers didn't mention that Dr Pepper had given them freebies and flown them to Dallas for a pep session," writes James Hebert, who examines several examples of the old PR trick of "getting a supposedly independent third party to tout your product."