Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Politics and Media

It's amazing what slight differences there are between Seattle and Vancouver, BC. The other week, my partner and were up there to get away for a few days. We met up with some of her friends from school and ate well as usual.

What was interesting about this trip was that it was in the middle of campaign season for Canada's government. I don't know if this only happens during elections, but I found it fascinating that while channel surfing late at night, I stumbled across a channel devoted to campaigns throughout the provinces called CPAC. Think of this as a mix between the History Channel, CSPAN and a cable news station. From a casual observation of the programming it was a mix of debates, features with potential voters, and candidate interviews. The reporters asked substantive questions and there was enough information to provide some historical context. Makes me wonder what something like this would look like in the States?

Also related to media and campaign coverage, while reading the paper in a cafe, I stumbled across an interesting assertion in The Globe and Mail (reg required):
Internet blogs also seem to have less influence in an issues-based campaign. Blogs thrive in negative campaigns. They counter misleading statements by politicians, challenge party advertising messages and expose media manipulation, bias and errors. Highlights from their postings can end up influencing coverage in the mainstream media.

So far, it seems there's less for blogs to chew over when policies dominate the campaign and media coverage.

All this suggests there's enough different in media coverage of the first half of this campaign that, if the parties focus on the negative in January, they may be surprised to find it less effective than in the past.
Not following Canadian politics all that much, I can't speak to how accurate this statement is, though it does seem to make sense. That is, if a campaign or it's supporters aren't playing defense or offense the whole time, and instead focusing on the issues at hand, the tone of the conversation is vastly different. Now wouldn't that be novel!

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