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RG13.1 Debates, gotcha, and YouTube

March 22nd, 2008 by dk

I feel bad for Jim Torrey. He took an unpopular stand on an issue in a debate at City Club, only to have that sound bite used against him in ads aired by his opponent. I was there when it happened, I observed the conversations that the Club had afterwards. Many leaders of the club were none too pleased to see video footage of a meeting being used for such a partisan purpose. Should the club have a rule, forbidding cameras, as they do in most courtrooms? Requiring permission from the club before anything can be rebroadcast, like a baseball team? Fortunately, no such rule was put in place. Today with cell phone cameras and, nobody could say anymore what “broadcast” really means. Torrey doesn’t want to be subjected to “gotcha” questions, and the audience can be counted on sometimes for that, unless the questions are screened by a moderator for fairness (which they are). But he’s OK with each candidate asking another candidate a question. Isn’t that the best example of a “gotcha” question? I hope he and the other candidates and City Club and the League of Women Voters can come to terms for a May debate. But whatever they come up with had better acknowledge that “narrowcasting” — tailoring a message for a specific audience — is no longer so easy to do. Anyone with a cell phone and an Internet connection can become a broadcaster, any time they want.

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