I caught a very interesting exchange between NBC’s Matt Lauer and political correspondent Andrea Mitchell on yesterday’s “Today” show. They were just coming out of Andrea’s story on the first YouTube Debates when Andrea said to Matt, “One possible lesson from all of this is that you and I could become obsolete.”
Matt replied, “Yeah, I wish you wouldn’t have summed it up that way, Andrea, but thank you very much. I appreciate it.”
Will you become obsolete, Andrea? No. Will your job change? Absolutely. New media is changing the political coverage game. And it’s not new. Before mass media, candidates would travel around the country speaking with individuals and hope that their message was captured accurately in print. After mass media, candidates hoped that their messages were pithy enough to escape the editing floor to become a sound-bite. The news reporting technology of the day has always had an impact on the political trail, and the YouTube Debates example is no different…or is it?
The press and broadcast media have always restricted external participation. Oh sure, newspapers have always offered a paltry “Letters to the Editor” section for reader comments, but even the name indicates the type of control that the print media has held a death grip on. Why? Power. Control the message and you have power.
At least that’s how it worked before New Media technologies.
Readers don’t need to rely on “Letters to the Editor” anymore. Candidates don’t need to hope that their message is saved from the editing room floor. New Media devices such as blogs and YouTube are arming voters and political candidates with tools which allow them to participate in an open, public dialog. Why? Because the rules have changed.
I applaud CNN for seeing the writing on the wall and fostering this new budding relationship between candidates and voters. It shows that the old and new media can coexist. New Media will not obsolete Old Media. But it will change it.
Now, let’s take the lesson of the YouTube debates and extend it to your company. Are you willing to open up a similar dialog with your customers?