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Saturday, December 30, 2006

John Edwards Meets the Bloggers

John Edwards Meets the Bloggers by stevegarfield, uploaded from flickr.

Going into this meet the bloggers event I was wondering how I'd get a chance to talk to John Edwards about video blogging when he was only scheduled for 15 minutes with us and there were 20 bloggers in the curtained off area.

I'd wanted to have him try my Nokia N93 and talk to him about how holding the camera yourself and shooting video can make videos more personal.

After the first blogger asked one question with two follow ups, I knew that I was in trouble. No one was in charge of the meeting beyond bringing John in and telling him when to leave.

I understand how these things need to be tightly scheduled, but came away disappointed.

Maybe the John Edwards campaign can work with local blogger representatives to make this a better experience at future events.

5 Reasons Why the John Edwards Blogger Meeting Was a Disappointment and How It Can be Better

1. 15 minutes.
I guess it's ironic that bloggers only get 15 minutes of fame. Ha ha. I'd ask for more time, but only if these sessions get more organized. Who is in charge of these 15 minutes? John Edwards? Campaign handlers? Local bloggers? If I was running this session I'd make it clear that we had limited time, cut off long winded questions, and move things along so as many people could talk to the candidate that wanted to.

2. One question per person.
You might think that what you have to ask is the most important thing in the world, but it's common courtesy to think about the bigger picture and realize that you can's really ask a long and involved question, get an answer, and then ask a follow up. This selfishness limited the questioners to maybe 4 or 5.

3. Let's talk about blogging
If you are in a bloggers meeting, lets talk about blogging. One blogger did ask about the importance of new media. He gets it. Other bloggers who asked about health care and the war in Iraq do not get it. Edwards will be answering those questions all day long. Let's use our time to talk about something different. it doesn't have to be about blogging, but at least ask something that doesn't get you a standard stump speech reply.

4. Lights. Camera. Action.
It'd be nice if the meeting could take place in a well lit area with available power.

The lighting was too dark for me to shoot anything other than poorly lit grainy footage, and there was no place for me to plug on my light kit. So even if I had time to shoot some video with Senator Edwards, it would have been poor, unless we moved over to a better lit area. I would have done that if there was time.

5. I Didn't Get to turn John Edwards into a fleeting moment Vlogger
I know that John Edwards has embraced video blogging and podcasting. By putting up the first video of this official campaign on YouTube shows that he gets it. By having Blogs and vlogs with RSS 2.0 with enclosures on his site proves that he and his staff understand the power of new media.

What I wanted him to experience, was the power of holding the camera and sharing his personal feelings. The connection that's made when recording a video while holding the camera yourself is different than standing up and talking to a camera that's sitting on a tripod. It also opens up the idea that you can always have a camera with you in your pocket, and record a fleeting moment and share that.

I posted links to all the videos over on John Edwards blog.


  1. I don't think that he is talking with the bloggers to talk about blogging though. He doesn't talk about making news to the MSM. It is all about his grassroots campaign and he wants to be asked the questions that aren't being asked by MSM to give bloggers the chance to break a story. I think that is what the Scobles and Chuck were there for. To talk about blogging.

  2. Thanks Jeff. Good point.

    Like I said in the post, " doesn't have to be about blogging, but at least ask something that doesn't get you a standard stump speech reply."

    The bloggers did not ask anything different from MSM in this meeting.

    I know it's hard to come up with something new and different, but what happened was just a question and answer session. It didn't turn into a conversation. The bloggers ended up acting just like reporters.

    I would not have done that.

  3. Anonymous9:34 AM

    My two cents on the subject.

  4. Anonymous2:28 PM

    I would have thought there would be discussion about how JRE intends to use other web 2.0 based technology in innovative ways in order to reach a larger audience, in a more personal and real-time way. For example - does he have any plans to use Second Life to hold real-time, on-line briefings or town halls. Has he looked at using mashups? That sort of thing....

  5. Anonymous3:33 PM

    You are right about the unsatisfying parts of the meet & greet. We didn't get to konw John Edwards. If I were to get to know Edwards - as a person - I would either work for him or not.

    I got to know Ned Lamont - as a person - merely by listening to him repeatedly in informal settings. I simply liked the guy, felt he was honest, and knew he could do the job. Therefore, I volunteered for him ... by helping to introduce people to the campaign, or helping to organize some events, or phonebanking, or yelling at people in the street (perhaps that part was ill-advised), or whatever.

    I don't yet seem to like John Edwards, but I am edging towards it. It is of course true that he is a better option that H. Clinton or Barak Obama. But I will have to see him in person more.

    Edwards is very much "on" and the MSM questions in the "blogger room" didn't break that down. Something to work on.

    Even without good lighting or electrical outlets, it was great meeting you, Steve.

  6. Steve and I talked about this a little bit at the event in New Hampshire and I want to related some of what I said there.

    15 minutes: Yeah, I would like to get bloggers to have more time with Sen. Edwards. It is hard to get time, and I hope we can get more, use it more effectively, and eventually get longer periods of time with Sen. Edwards.

    One question per blogger: That's probably my fault. I helped organize it, but all from a fairly unofficial role with no guidelines. I sat back and let things happen, which is generally how I like to approach things, but I probably should have set better ground rules ahead of time.

    Let's talk about blogging: I think Dean from BlueHampshire asked a good question about the role of new media. I would have liked to seen more of that, as well as more give and take. We shouldn't be there just to ask Sen. Edwards what he thinks, but we should give our own thoughts about what makes sense.

    Beyond that, I think the important part is not to talk about blogging, but to talk about all those things that the traditional media is missing. To me, the key part of Sen. Edwards' message is about getting people active in making our country a better place, yet the press is busy with their current hot narratives like Iraq and Obama and as such aren't really hearing or reporting on Edwards message.

    A well lit area: Yeah. That sucked. We were supposed to have a good well lit area, but there were logistical difficulties that precluded that. Hopefully we will get a better venue next time.

    Turning Sen. Edwards into a true video blogger. I would have loved to video taped you handing him your camera, giving him your great five second, here's how you start videoblogging, and seeing what he can do.

    Site comment to Carol. I'm on Second Life. I tried to get the Lamont campaign to do something there. It didn't happen. Maybe we can get the Edwards campaign to do something there, or perhaps we do a citizen launch ourselves. Check out this diary over on the Edwards site (as well as my comment there). If you're interested, comment there, add me as a friend at SLProfiles, etc.

  7. Anonymous5:39 PM

    Hey, Mike Caulfield from Blue Hampshire here. I asked the question about new media.

    The answer he gave was not really to the question I asked. I was actually asking him not if he planned to use it, but what he thught its role was. I know he's using it, but why? What is it we do that the MSM doesn't?

    I agree that we shouldn't be asking questions that the MSM is going to ask 300 times. I am unsure of what we should be doing. I think in one respect, regardless of technology, we are the activist media, and there's a role there. And I think not being under professional constraints, we can be a little more agile, and change the story being told (e.g. with Edwards the story is not Iraq or Poverty, but the campaign as movement idea he is pushing...we can push that analysis to the MSM, where they seem to be focussed on covering the last campaign...I would not be surprised if the Edwards as Dean 2.0 question we are posing on the blogs makes it to the weeklies very soon...that's part of our true bust apart inappropriate frames and replace them with new ones...

  8. Anonymous9:35 PM

    John Edwards knows a lot about poverty, after all, he's helped throw a lot of people into it with:

    - his co-sponsorship of H-1b visas,

    - his support for illegal aliens,

    - his vote for MFN-China

    but what about stuff like iraq war and the patriot act?

    well, he voted for them too

    About the only think you can say for Edwards is, he spent so much time running for president that he didnt have time to do more damage as senator

  9. Anonymous11:18 AM

    A concern I have is that some bloggers, Drew Baron and Chuck Olsen, for example, were paid by the Edwards campaign to post video on line about the candidate. I was predisposed toward Edwards until I read about that in The Washington Post. IMHO, it makes him seem like just another prepackaged candidate, and even more distressing, it makes me question the objectivity of videobloggers I've really come to trust.

    I tried to leave a similar message on your Vlog Soup site. Perhaps it is more appropriate here.

  10. Egregarious,
    I saw your message on the vlog and answered it over there.