A couple of prominent news sources today kick around the question of whether a snapshot in time captures who candidates really are.
First, the New York Times (Putting Candidates Under the Videoscope), profiles “embeds,” the “will work cheap” videographers and reporters who film everything the candidate does, blog like crazy, and occasionally get the big story, like when Mitt Romney hugged the women from Hooters, or when FoxNews’ Bill O’Reilly shoved a member of Barack Obama’s staff.
Says the Times…
The ubiquitous camcorders and immediate Internet access do make the campaigns more wary of potential pitfalls. If a candidate becomes irritated during a newspaper reporter’s interview, the instance may merit only a sentence in the next day’s article. But if the exchange takes place in front of video cameras, “It gets put on the Internet for the whole world to see, not just for that day’s news, but repeatedly over time,” Mr. Fehrnstrom said.
Is this a good thing? No, says Dan Gillmor today. He runs the Center for Citizen Media, a one-man advocate for putting journalism in the hands of people.
What is still not part of the understanding is the sheer unfairness of letting a single moment on video reflect a person’s reality. Yet this is what seems to happen on a regular basis.
When, as in the case of former Sen. George Allen — he of the famous “Macaca” comment — there is a history of racially charged words and deeds, then you have something worth discussing. When it’s simply one of those weird moments on the campaign trail, it’s nothing or close to it.
I could follow anyone reading this with a video camera for an hour and post something on the Web that would make you look ridiculous. You could do the same to me. Neither posting would reflect who we really are.
A culture of gotcha is a shallow culture. Is it the one we really want to promote?
Perhaps true. On the other hand, my day today — and I’ll bet yours — is not completely scripted, occasional with the purpose to hide who we really are.