Wednesday, November 5, 2008 Obama In, McCain Out

by: Julie Hartz

Walking into a bar in Athens filled with "Students For Obama", College Democrats, and numerous Democrat supporters, I saw tears, laughter, fist pumps, and utter awe. They had worked so hard and so long, and finally got the result they wanted.

Obama's victory last night isn't just one for him. It's one for our entire country because it represents a huge leap into the future. His electoral landslide victory was shocking to me, and I'm sure to those McCain supporters who thought it was going to be a lot closer.

According to, the popular vote was also a pretty decisive result. Obama got 52-percent, and McCain 46-percent.

I must admit, as a journalist, I was THRILLED when the election was pretty much decided at 11PM. Remember just four years ago? Coming into the night fearing a repeat of what happened, I was ecstatic when McCain decided to make his concession speech as soon as the polls closed on the West Coast.

And all of this was largely in part to Ohio's role as a swing state. Looking at the popular vote map of Ohio early in the night, it looked like it would be a shoe-in for McCain. But once only a third of the results were in, all of the major news networks were calling Obama's victory in this key state which almost always predicts the winner of the White House.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

ABC.COM: Finale

Nina Wieczorek

Election day has finally come. The campaigns are almost over and now they wait and see what their two years of work was worth. And that's true not only for the campaigns, but also the media. The voter is going to make his or her decision based on different factors, including how well the media informed him. So how did the media do their job? Did they answer the important questions (who stands for what, why is this happening,...)? Were they unbiased?

Biden not Present
If you take a look at, you'll only find pro Obama ads, McCain bought no space for ads. And if you look at the editorial content, mostly it's about Obama or Sarah Palin, followed by McCain and Joe Biden is hard to find. Since the beginning, articles about the democratic Vice-presidential candidate were rare. Why? Is it, because the democratic camp already gets enough coverage by all the attention Obama draws, or is it, because Biden is not interesting enough (especially in comparison to newcomer Palin)? So the media covers the one who offers them more to talk about?

After the Election
After the election two will have won, and two will have lost. The losers might go back to where they came from, which would mean for example, Palin will go back to Alaska. But, what if she doesn't go back to Alaska, but tries to stay visible – for example with a tv-show of her own? After this experience it will be interesting to see if she feels Alaska is too small for her.

Write a Book
If so, and it doesn't work out with the tv-show, she can still write a book. Just like Joe the Plumber, aka Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher. Something from behind the did she get the ticket? How did she get prepared for the national and international stage? And how was talking to Nicholas Sarkozy?

Monday, November 3, 2008

CNN-TV: Wait, other people are running for president?

by Christina London

Well, the bus stops here. After what seems like an endless campaign, I cannot believe that we (God-willing) will have a new president tomorrow. Many people I’ve talked to are plain sick of election coverage. But you have to admit, it’s going to be strange putting on CNN and not hearing the latest on Barack Obama and John McCain. So with mere hours remaining until the votes are tallied, what does CNN chose to cover? The surprising answer: third-party candidates.

Barr and Nader: Revealed
Last week on CNN’s American Morning, anchor Kiran Chetry did a double interview with Libertarian Bob Barr and Independent Ralph Nader. (According to the latest CNN Poll of Polls, Nader currently has 3% of the vote, and Barr is holding steady with 2%.)

Now, I've been following CNN's election coverage for two months and hadn't heard a single mention about Nader or Barr until this week. In my opinion, we should have been hearing more. In a race with states "too close to call," two or three percentage points are a big deal. Regardless, I say better late than never. This interview was a refreshing break from the wall-to-wall coverage of political rallies.

Don’t know much about the “major” third-party candidates for president? Here are some quick facts:

Bob Barr (Libertarian Party)
  • Vice President: Wayne Allyn Root

  • Wants to cut every area of government spending

  • Supports "consumer-oriented" health care

  • Thinks the federal government shouldn't decide can and cannot marry

  • Ralph Nader (Independent)
  • Vice President: Matt Gonzales

  • Wants to stop the bailout

  • Supports universal health care

  • Supports equal rights for same-sex couples

  • One Vote for Barr
    Over the past seven days, CNN has covered more than its fair share of polls and the horse race. However, I've also seen some outstanding stories about real people and real voters. This is by far my favorite from the campaign season:

    MSNBC-TV: Last minute coverage...before the BIG day

    by Brooks Jarosz

    People are heading to the polls! Even before November 4th, voters have turned out in swarms to make their voices heard early. Since I knew I would be covering local elections, I was one of those people. I headed into the board of election in Athens on Friday morning and was out within twenty minutes! Of course by midday the line was out the door and down the street.

    The news networks were building up for the big day. Both NBC and MSNBC took time out of their broadcasts to promote thier election coverage. The most interesting I heard about was ABC's use of all the Times Square jumbotrons to broadcast election results. MSNBC has an interactive dashboard to keep up with all of the results. They also explain how many people are taking part in activities on the web this election.

    Covering the states to watch
    Brian Williams checked in with a number of reporters covering the key swing states. I thought this was effective not only in coverage, but also in promoting NBC as a worthwhile election resource. He started with a reporter in Florida who spoke of the varied support in that state. I never knew the northern part of Florida is primarily conservative whereas the southern tip is mostly liberal. The candidates are fighting for independents who usually reside in the middle part of the state. Interesting facts!

    Another swing state covered was Virginia, where no democrat has won since 1964, before electing Lyndon B. Johnson. The late Tim Russert's son covered Indiana and mentioned the youth vote, where of some 300,000 new voters, 125,000 are under age 25. My overall impression of the coverage was fast-paced and engaging, making it an exciting atmosphere all over the country.

    Polls and targets...are they matching up?
    Over 150 national polls have been taken over this past week. Most of them show Obama ahead by two to 12 percentage points. My question always is how reliable and accurate are these polls? MSNBC must be pretty confident, as they constantly talk polls and run state polls at the bottom of the screen. One recent Quinnapiac Poll says Obama is ahead 52 percent to McCain's 42 percent. While it might be ok to predict, I would be careful in what I was saying or observing.

    Two political analysts, Peter Hart and Neil Newhouse commented on the overall campaigns. Hart mentioned Obama has been attracting independents, blue collar workers, suburban people and those between the age of 18 and 34. They both agree that having the legend lower will help keep things away from the top.

    Since the economy is so important, many independents have been turning to Obama and his platform to learn more.

    It should be an exciting election. Other than the eight calls I received from political campaigns I got today, it was an enjoyable day. Tomorrow, preparation will take place for cut ins on WOUB-TV with coverage of the state and local issues. Now, it's all up to the battleground states. It is proving to be a well covered contest! The Final Countdown

    by Cristina Mutchler

    Barack Obama Up Close and Personal
    Just one day before the election, posted this article and video about Obama's feelings regarding his wife, Michelle, as a campaign target, as well as his Kenyan aunt who is an illegal immigrant in this country. I thought this was a particularly interesting twist to the interview, because throughout the campaign I have not heard much about this aunt and I don't think it has been made a big deal. When people in this country hear the word illegal immigrant, they immediately think of Mexicans, and I think that this part of the article could be potentially used to educate others, if nothing else. I also believe that had this "illegal immigrant" family member been of Mexican descent, the story would have taken a different turn and portrayed more negatively. Watch and decide for yourself!

    New Poll Findings
    The longest, most expensive presidential campaign in U.S. history is coming to an end, and a poll shows that Republican candidate John McCain has gained some ground in the poll numbers. However, at this point, Obama is staying steady with a nine-point advantage among likely voters. The Democratic ticket leads the Republican ticket with 51 percent to 42 percent of likely U.S. voters. Just on Sunday, another CBS News poll showed that Obama and Biden's ticket had a 13-point lead, which has now been narrowed.

    Presidential Questions

    In the last "Presidential Questions" section for this campaign season, CBS News anchor Katie Couric asks the candidates several interesting questions, including what they would like to have on their tombstone. I thought that seemed a bit menacing with the election one day away and with the passing of Obama's grandmother.

    Another question that I found interesting had to do with campaign management. Couric asked the candidates when was the last time they fired someone who has worked for them. McCain answered that it was when his campaign had serious problems and was going in the wrong direction. He said that he had to make a change in the campaign. Obama's response was more ambigous, as he says that he has had to fire people during the course of the campaign due to people making mistakes or causing drama. He did not, however, want to name these folks, as he "didn't want to embarass them."

    Blogger's Note
    With Tuesday being the end to this race, I hope that you found this blog interesting and/or were enticed to check out or other network outlets to form your own opinions. I've had fun analyzing the coverage and by this time next week, we will officially have a new president to blog about. Thanks!

    NBC Final Spurt: Mainstream Media Buffet With Some Deli Stuff

    by Stine Eckert
    For this blog I concentrate on NBC's videos in the Latest Program, Web Only, and Politics section as well as on the First Read blog, which is part of MSNBC.

    Staring at this stage for two months: the NBC Nightly News online video player. Sometimes confusing and redundant, this is a neat set-up to watch current and archived videos. This is the last blog post as our project ends with election day on November 4, 2008.

    THE election

    Of course a week before THE election on planet earth users could find in NBC Nightly News' online video player oodles of tidbits about THE election: snafus in early voting, Laura Bush stumping in Kentucky, the candidates fight against illness, interpretation of polls, campaign trail coverage of Pennsylvania and Ohio... NBC's online election buffet offered a little bit for everyone who likes a mainstream media diet. Among the deluge of videos I just picked a handful of worthwhile clips and point out a couple of bad apples in the batch.

    NBC made some interesting attempts to cover the right stuff: issues like green energy, science, and education, another third candidate, questioning the power of polls, the heated issue of homosexuality on the Californian ballot, and even a peak beyond its own nose – at least sort of – into Israel (U.S. ally), Turkey (U.S. ally), and Kenya (Obama’s family origin). However, most stories stopped short when it became more interesting such as the nitty-gritty details of going green or a comprehensive summary of third parties.

    Information goulash – NBC’s Obama interviews

    My week of observation started off with the discovery of an interview of Obama by Brian Williams. In the second seven minutes dated October 30, 2008 Obama talks about why Bill Clinton was better off campaigning by himself, how much the auto industry means to him, and the trickiness of appointing the right Supreme Court justice

    Unfortunately I couldn’t find an extended interview version but only a number of clips on individual topics such as “talking to Taliban”, “being a recession president”, “America’s aging infrastructure”, and “on Afghanistan, terrorism” as well as other chopped up pieces. While this might help users who are interested in only one topic it should not be too hard to also upload the whole interview in one piece. After all, this is one of the Internet’s great strengths, to give space to a long piece that tells the audience in its coherence and development, more than just the obvious. How an interview is conducted from start to finish provides additional information for the user to judge the candidate (and the media). Besides, it is tedious to pick up all the shards of sound bites in five different video sections (Latest Program, Most Viewed, Web Only, Politics, Decision ‘08) to compose a full mirror of information and impression.

    Keeping a thin blanket of issue coverage: Where They Stand

    NBC also continued with its series NBC’s Where They Stand this time concentrating on how "green" each candidate would be as president. The story gives only a brief summary still leaving the voter wondering what the candidate’s approach to some environmental issues are (e.g. geothermal and solar energy, how they will actually cut carbon emissions, how much money would go intto supporting green jobs). Both believe in the oxymoronic notion of clean coal and offshore oil drilling, which should make it hard for true green believers to decide for the lesser of two environmental evils: John McCain who wants to build 45 more nuclear power plants by 2030 or Barack Obama whose strategy toward nuclear energy we learn nothing about in NBC's visual attempt to throw some crumbs to tree huggers.

    Briefing Book Issues 08
    On the other hand NBC’s Briefing Book has filled up with more and important issues that are rather neglected in the general debate on television: comparative information on abortion, science, consumer issues, and education. A nice contribution to give voters background information, too bad some of these issues were not featured on Nightly News.

    Better aggressive than nothing

    Another rather rare third party piece showed up. However, similar to the interview with Ralph Nader, NBC’s Ron Allen interviews Libertarian presidential candidate Bob Barr rather aggressively with an attitude of doubt or criticism that I don’t see when John McCain, Barack Obama and the like are questioned.

    However, the short clip gives a wrap up of the Liberitarian Party and their presidential candidate Bob Barr. “The Liberitarian Party brings those things that the Republican Party used to stand for but no longer does.” The very conservative Barr entered Congress as a Republican in 1994 but lost his seat in 2002. According to NBC he currently polls at 2 or 3%.

    It would have been a great service to the public if NBC would have produced a third party series introducing all their presidential candidates and so showing alternative choices – they are part of U.S. political landscape, too. If NBC wants to fulfill its function to provide its audience (i.e. the public) with information to help citizens make informed decisions in a democracy, it needs to pay more attention to what's happening outside the center. After all, providing information that no one else can get is its legitimization for existence.

    The power of polls
    Despite its own reliance on polls, NBC uploaded a two minutes video of October 30, 2008 dedicated to pointing out the flaws of surveys: landlines v cell phones, honesty, and intended lying to give the other camp false security. It's a nice piece behind the scenes for people don't think about where the numbers come from.

    Proposition 8 – Same sex marriage in California
    "As hot as the presidential race" the reporter calls it. An October 30, 2008 story sums up the passionate fights for and against same sex marriage in California. If Proposition 8 as its official ballot title reads passes, it would ban same sex marriage in California. Polls are close as gay and lesbian couples rush to tie the knot before something that goes without saying for heterosexuals and was won just six months ago might become a rainbow colored fairy tale of the past – an informative piece on a state issue at the sidelines of the national election.

    Turkey for Obama -- and other exotic glimpses

    An almost two minutes story of October 31, 2008 gives a glimpse into a country featuring a strong Muslim population. As much as many in Turkey wish for Obama to become U.S. president, they all also fear the hostile U.S. approach towards Islam.

    An interesting three-minute kaleidoscope of U.S. voters in Israel dated October 30, 2008 starts off with ping-ponging between voices for Obama and McCain. Between 7.000 and 10.000 U.S. citizens are registered to vote from Israel. Many of them come from swing states such as Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida – an unusual look behind the scenes of organizing the U.S. election overseas.

    Two November 3, 2008 videos turn their attention to a continent most of the time neglected and forgotten by media but suddenly of interest because of the origin of Obama’s father: Kenya. The short clips feature the two sides of the Obama coin there: celebrating Obama in a musical as a son of the nation but also the serious consequences for his family who built a fence and are protected by guards from too much attention.

    Thou shall not listen to rumors

    This three minutes clip of October 31, 2008 speculates about rumors of Sarah Palin wanting to run for president in 2012, the McCain campaign’s tendency to paint her as scapegoat if McCain loses mixed with some of the disagreements on issues such as same-sex marriage.

    However, the clip starts off with the anchor saying that now in the final week of the campaign “you would hope that voters would be focused on nothing but the issues but it’s rumors not issues grabbing some of the headlines.”

    Hhhmmm, who is making these headlines? And who is thriving on them to catch and bind these fickle eyeballs to consume whatever the screen shows (probably also issues if they would be aired more)? Having said this, here’s a piece on some current juicy McCain/Palin gossip. But voter, please focus on the issues here, won't you!?

    Predict your own election!
    Finally, MSNBC offers a neat toy, an interactive map for the user to fill in toss-up states and see the outcome of your personal hunch.

    On its Decision '08 home page MSNBC offers more interactive tools, photos, cartoons, name it.

    This will be the last post for this blog since this media observation project stops with election day on November 4, 2008 (which as of this writing is roughly 12 hours away). Despite all the fun of sometimes checking NBC Nightly News online more often than my e-mail, no matter how the election will go, I and the country can concentrate again on some other important issues. Back to non-election mode of real life.

    Fox News Channel: The Home Stretch

    By Allison Herman

    In my opinion, this last week of election coverage has been the most exciting yet. Fox News Channel has had many different politicians on as live interviews, all talking about how they think the election will turn out. What’s great about these interviews is that nearly all of them are from very passionate people who genuinely seem like they mean and care about what they’re saying, and all are confident that they know how the election will turn out. The only problem is that they’re split about 50-50: half for McCain and half for Obama.

    It’s also interesting to see how the national media is portraying the state of Ohio. We’re a swing state that means a lot in this election, but it also seems that no one really know definitively who will get the buckeye state. About twice an hour Fox has a different story about how Ohio’s going to be the state to watch on Election Day, which is exciting and it makes me glad that I get to participate in Ohio’s election this year.

    What is also a continuing trend on Fox is the channel showing the last minute campaign stops by the presidential candidates across the country. As I said in my previous blog, I was surprised to see that they were showing the candidates speeches in their entirety. 20 minutes of a political speech isn’t the most exciting TV, especially when both of the candidates use the same speech every time. If you’ve seen it once, you’ve seen it a thousand times. But again, I guess that’s the luxury and the curse of a 24 hour news network – lots of time to fill.

    Tuesday, October 28, 2008

    MSNBC-TV: Obama Wins! (We Think)

    by Brooks Jarosz

    With only seven days left until the presidential election, the campaigns are continuing their promotional travels. Meanwhile, the news media, especially MSNBC, has been choosing a winner. They sight political polls showing Barack Obama is leading by numerous points. even if the polls are based on reliable sampling, I find it disturbing that different commentators are placing bets.

    While I don't agree with many of these so-called journalists, I did get a kick out of what Keith Olbermann said last night. He said the best metaphor to describe the McCain campaign was that his car was running out of gas, which actually happened. That is in addition to the media bus covering Governor Sarah Palin, that broke down on the side of the road.

    Rachel Maddow Says Polls Don't Tell the Whole Story
    MSNBC host Rachel Maddow compared the two campaigns to football statistics. Quite creative AND dead-on in my opinion. When a person has a candidate he or she likes, they fail to realize what the rhetoric means. As a result, both sides think their campaign is doing the best. Looking at both campaigns from a different perspective only helps my understanding of the candidates. Later in Maddow's segment, she talks with Democratic Pennsylvania Governor, Ed Rendell, about Barcak Obama's campaign strategies.

    Just Serve the People Honestly!
    MSNBC likes to debate and discuss issues that should not matter to the average Americans. "Hardball" first brought up a number of comments by other publications talking down Vice Presidential Candidate Sarah Palin. Then, Chris Matthews brought up reasons to believe why the McCain campaign could be crumbling. Two other people spoke with Matthews regearding the issues, but included more of their own opinions than the facts. I feel like the lines have been tremendously blurred, causing journalists to give their opinions. I wish we could spend more time on producing a well-balanced and honest show with the facts.

    ABC.COM: What if...?

    Nina Wieczorek

    ...Barack Obama moves into the White House? What if he doesn't? What will be the consequences for the people in the United States and its image in the world, for the economy, health care, immigration, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, etc.?

    Over the last several months we've gotten an idea of what each candidate would do if he was elected, but which of these goals are actually doable? Which depend too much on lobbies, money and other relations so that they can only be done with major changes, if at all? Which suggestions are more retorical promises than seriously meant to be realized?

    This, of course, we won't get to know until after the election, but the general 'What if...?' game can already be played.

    Celebrity Relations...

    How did he do that? In all, Obama could raise more than $600M, while John McCain only achieved $358M. And so many celebrities endorsed Obama, that his opponents already describe him as a celebrity as well. Sometimes they paid as much as $30,000 at one of those fundraiser parties. And in this recent article called "Stars speak out about the Hudson tragedy" he is even pictured next to Fergie...

    But, it's not just Obama, Sarah Palin also got a lot of 'celebrity' type coverage during the last few weeks. Some even want to have her hosting a show of her own.

    Politics and showbiz - a relationship founded on money and publicity, what does that do to the credibility of those who govern the people?

    Not Present
    Especially in comparison to the media attention Sarah Palin got, Joe Biden is not just underrepresented, he's ignored. It's really astonishing how little coverage there was on him on Why? Is he not controversial enough? Doesn't he look good enough? Or are his clothes not expensive enough?

    Palin was praised, and then bashed by the media, while Biden got really very little attention.

    Who'll Go?
    That's a good question, but this one won't be answered before next week. How will the youth vote turn out? Will all the young people who have registered make the effort to go and vote? What about the rarely mentioned issue of racism? Will this play a role?

    Not from, but from is this video...a scenario from the democratic perspective about what might happen, when people stay home. :)

    NBC-TV: T-minus Seven Days

    by Samantha Pompeo

    A few days ago, I was reading an article about how news media will react to the end of the elections. The question was posed about what networks like NBC will talk about when the president-elect is decided. It made me think about how much of a news program's rundown is based on the election. Looking at any "Nightly News," it's obvious that multiple minutes are devoted to what's going on on the campaign trail. And with only a few short days until voters head to the polls, NBC is making last minute attempts to help undecided voters decide.

    There may not be a lot of time left before the end of the campaign, but a lot has happened in the meantime. On the Today Show, there was a wonderful long package about the road to the White House. It seems to focus more on Obama than McCain, but that could be because Obama had to fight for his spot as the Democratic candidate.

    And then today, the Matt Lauer talked to NBC's chief political director about polls.

    But with so little time left, why are we focusing on polls? With so little time left, shouldn't the focus be on where the candidates are, what they're saying, and how the campaigns are wrapping up? I feel like I'm repeatedly asking the same question: where are the issues? But as a journalist, I have to remember the bottom line: ratings. Will the issues bring in ratings? Maybe not, but they're what the campaign is and should be about. And networks like NBC should do their best to help inform and educate the viewer, regardless of how the ratings may fair.

    T-minus seven days until the historic decision. This is when the fun begins.

    ABC-TV: Campaigns Coming to a Close

    Monique Ozanne

    Ted Stevens
    Convicted on seven felony counts for not reporting hundreds of thousands of dollars in unreported gifts, Alaska Senator Ted Stevens is asking his colleagues, as well as Alaska voters to stand by his side as he appeals the charges. We know for sure that one Republican senator will not be supporting Stevens. Republican presidential nominee John McCain is asking Stevens to resign. The 84-year old Stevens is up for re-election in next week's November 4th elections and if re-elected he could be expelled by the Senate. McCain calls for Stevens resignation because he says Stevens has "broken his trust with the people." McCain's running mate, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin has not called for Stevens resignation, but says that she "is confident he will do what is right for the people of Alaska."

    My question is, what about the Republican party? Something else that must be considered is what does this dismissal mean for the Democratic party? Does this allow for Democrats to campaign against the GOP like they did in 2006? ABC's George Stephanopuolos asks this question in his blog, and finds that if Stevens loses Alaska that it means one seat lost for the Republicans, and possibly one gained on the other side.

    Early Voting
    What an astonishing concept. One in ten registered voters has taken advantage of the opportunity to vote early and avoid the long lines on election day. Along with the surprising number of voters who have voted early, these same people are showing strong support for Obama. For those skeptics who need the "hard facts" on this statement, ABC News has teamed up with The Washington Post to produce an updated document with charts, and questions -- something that I will be checking daily from now until the 4th.

    Until one of the candidates shows a strong lead on November 4th, the media will be very hesitant, and should be wary of calling the election. It is important to continue to be a good citizen and keep reading articles, blogs, reports, and keep track of polls. Polls are something Americans should treasure, and look to as another form of democracy and form of representation from their fellow citizens. We are lucky in this country to have polls as a resource to gather information. Although they have high significance, and are what many news outlets are basing their stories off of these last few days, we must still treat them as what they are.

    Alleged Plot
    Since May 3, the secret service has followed Obama on his campaign trail, which is the earliest the service service has been with any presidential candidate. We now understand why. Federal authorities have reported that they foiled a plot that involved an assassination plan to kill Barack Obama. The plot involved two men with reported links to the white supremacist movement.

    The last time I was home, I spent a little bit of time with my mother in a salon while she got a haircut. While I was waiting I began talking to a woman who was waiting next to me. For whatever reason she felt comfortable enough with me to begin discussing the upcoming presidential election. Timidly, she told me that she is afraid to vote for Obama because she is afraid she will contribute to his "eventual assassination". I was pretty perplexed by her response, until I realized that she was from the same generation of voters who loved and supported JFK before his assassination. And she began to tell me that she is so afraid to get her hopes ups, and have something tragic happen like it did with JFK.

    I did not have a response for her, but I did come to my own conclusions about this election. This election is truly historic, and especially for those who have seen and heard so many over the past decades; I now understand how important this election is for so many. Obama is finishing his campaign with soaring speeches, while McCain is adamant about his attacks on liberal v. conservative and safe v. risky. In these last few days we might see the campaigns coming down to these small, "little things that may wind up to be big things," which is what ABC talks about in the latest article of The Note. For now we can just track the polls, follow the trails, and anticipate the results on November 4th. Problems in the Spotlight

    Jaime Baker

    As the election looms closer, bad press is coming out of the closet for everyone involved. The big news of the week was Alaska Senator Ted Stevens being convicted on seven counts of corruption. Now John McCain is asking him to step down, saying Stevens has broken his trust with the people. Alaska Governor Sarah Palin has also chastised Stevens, saying he needs to step down from his position.

    Another bit of bad news came out of Tennessee this week. Two Neo-Nazis had a plan to murder Barack Obama that was foiled by police. They also had a plan to massacre about 88 people, beheading 14 of them. 88 and 14 are symbolic numbers in white supremacy.

    This really highlights an major issue in the campaign--how many people are silently voting against Barack Obama because of his race? One question this raises is how skewed are the poll numbers by people who say they will vote for Obama, or that race doesn't matter, but in actuality, when they get into the voting booth can't pull the lever for a black man.

    Fox News Channel: Stepping up their game

    By Allison Herman

    I have been particularly impressed with what Fox News Channel has been doing with its election coverage this past week, and I believe this is because I’ve changed when I’m watching Fox News. Normally I watch in the evenings, but watching in the mornings is incredibly different. The anchors are anchors, not commentators throwing in their two cents all the time. And the way they were reading their stories and interacting with their guests was really great. So for great news coverage for the election, watch early.

    That being said, I normally don’t care for polls. There are so many, they’re all different, and I hardly believe that they’re accurate or tell you much of anything 4 months before the election. But at this point in the game, one week before people are actually going to vote, I think they’re much more interesting and much more informative - even if the numbers are still fluctuating in these final days. So, I was pleased when Fox took half a minute out of their newscast to show the latest numbers in the key swing states.

    What I also really liked was that while Barack Obama and John McCain were both campaigning in Pennsylvania on Tuesday, Fox had live feeds from both of their speeches. I was a little surprised though when they showed both of the speeches nearly in their entirety. I figured they would show 5 minutes or so, but sure enough they showed the whole thing. I guess that’s a luxury of a 24 hour news network, but it's one they don't take advantage of often enough. Countdown to Election Night

    by Alex Mazer

    Looking at the Fox News website this week, one particular article that caught my eye the most was "Government Foils Skinhead Plot to Assassinate Obama." This is a prime example of how elections get out of hand. People are crossing extreme boundaries.

    The two young men who were plotting the Obama assassination not only planned to attack him but also more than 100 African American students. It's a little ridiculous that now innocent people are being threatened because of a presidential race.

    Personally, I think the best man will will and it shouldn't matter what his skin color is or how old he is and it shouldn't even come down to his name. I think the man the country beleives will run our country best will be the one to win the race. And there is nothing anyone can do to change that, at least there shouldn't be.

    This week I have also noticed that the Fox Elections page is getting a little more interactive. At the bottom of the page there is a tracker for all viewers of the website to view their own state elections. I think this is a good idea to get people to visit the site more often because they can now look at all election coverage on one site.

    There is also an election countdown towards the bottom of the page, which I think is a good idea to have because it gets people excited about the election. Personally, I like to know the time left until an event is about to occur, I'm sure there are many other people who like this feature as well.

    I also like the ads in the top right corner of the page. One of the ads that appears in that space encourages people to get an absentee ballot to vote and offers a link to click in order to get to the right place to request one.

    Monday, October 27, 2008

    CNN-TV: The "Magic Map" and Angry Joe

    by Christina London

    It seems like it's been going on forever, but can you believe that the presidential election is only one week away? CNN is ready...and the people there want you to know they're ready. This week, the Cable News Network has devoted quite a bit of airtime to explaining exactly how it plans to cover election results.

    That Magical Map
    In my opinion, CNN has always been the most innovative among the networks when it comes to covering Election Night. But next Tuesday, it will take interactive election coverage to new heights with what is being called the "Magic Map." It's basically an enormous touch-screen picture of the United States; whenever CNN's John King touches a particular state, the map zooms in and gives him all the important election information about that state.

    Some people are giving CNN flak for the map, including those over at Saturday Night Live:

    So is the "Magic Map" a useful tool for conveying information, or is it just overkill? Personally, I think the map will be effective, especially for visual learners. I also like the fact that viewers can "play along" at home. With the Electoral Calculator, people can update their maps after CNN calls each state and can even create "what if" scenarios by turning any state red or blue.

    "Are you joking?"

    It seemed like every CNN talk show this weekend was discussing Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden. It's because of an interview Biden did with Barbara West of WFTV in Florida on Saturday. During the Q and A, West quoted Karl Marx and asked, "How is Obama not being a Marxist if he plans to spread the wealth around?" To this, Biden laughed and asked, "Is that a real question?" Take a look:

    Monday night on Anderson Cooper 360, Cooper posed the question, who was out of line: the politician or the news anchor? In my opinion, it was West. If you watch the whole interview, you'll see that she was trying to get Biden to argue. For instance, she asked, "Aren't you embarrassed by the blatant attempts to register phony voters by ACORN, an organization that Barack Obama has been tied to in the past?" The way she phrased this question really makes her appear biased. She should have asked, "What is your take on the ACORN situation?" or "I know Barack Obama has been tied to ACORN in the do you feel about the current controversy?" In my view, she came into the interview with a "I'm gonna get him" attitude, not a neutral approach, as a journalist should.

    What do you think? Do you think Biden or West or both acted inappropriately? Early voting turnouts reach record; Small business owners need to decide

    by: Julie Hartz

    Early Voters Weigh In
    It's just a week away, and early voting has already had record turnouts for this year's election.

    In Georgia alone, nearly a fifth of all voters have already voted.
    This year, 31 states are allowing their voters to either vote early in person. This all in an effort to avoid the massive issues we faced in 2004 in Ohio and other states.

    In my opinion, early voting is the way to go. Election day is going to be total mayhem no matter how prepared the separate precincts are, so why not take a few minutes tomorrow to vote? I did it just this morning, and to be honest, it was the most fulfilling experience I could ever imagine having when voting. I simply walked into the Board of Elections, and 10 minutes later was on my merry way. So make your life...and the lives of those working at the polls...a little easier next Tuesday and get your vote in early!

    Small Business Owners Still in Toss-up
    But those who aren't quite ready to cast their vote are taking the extra time to consider what each candidate will do for them...and their country.

    One targeted group of each candidates' latest campaign has been small business owners. And according to, they're not quite sure who to vote for just yet. Barack Obama talks to Ohioans in Canton about the economic crisis and McCain's financial plan.

    Even though Obama thinks McCain's financial plan is more of the same, McCain says Obama's plan is going to spread the wealth of those who've earned it their entire lives.

    Now if you are a small business owner and are still in a toss-up about the election, CNNMoney offers an Election 2008 special about where each candidate stands on your money and the election. The Last Few Days

    by Cristina Mutchler

    Backing Barack
    We've all heard reports that presidential candidate Barack Obama is the biggest fundraiser in this election. But I had no idea exactly how MUCH he was fundraising, and who he is getting this money from. In the beginning of their campaigns, both candidates promised to keep their fundraising to a minimum. But Obama broke the record of coming in as the greatest political fundraiser ever, with more than $603 million, as opposed to the $358 million that McCain has raised.

    Another interesting tidbit on the Obama fundraising subject is that he has also gotten more money from unidentified donors than anyone in history, with people giving way over the federal limit amount! In a week, we will find out if all of that fundraising was enough to help Barack win the vote.

    Breaking Off from Bush
    John McCain announced that he would NOT be embarking on President Bush's economic policies, and instead, will be going another route. McCain promised to place strict controls over government spending, thus protecting savings, retirement accounts, and helping to raise the stock market once again. The candidate also promised to create millions of jobs through tax cuts that will in turn help the economy. Watch McCain's pledge to help U.S. citizens and the economy below.

    Presidential Questions
    This week, presidential candidates McCain and Obama answered questions about an issue that politicians sometimes face- infidelity. CBS News anchor Katie Couric wondered why so many politicians in the public eye risk not only their relationships but their credibility by being unfaithful to their spouse. Obama's answer? He's even cautious about picking his nose, because being in the public eye, you have to expect that every one's watching you. McCain, on the other hand, seemed more concerned with not judging past politicians who have cheated on their spouses, even quoting one of the biblical ideas of "judge not."

    Watch the complete answers below and judge for yourself!

    NBC Increased Quantity for Same Quality

    by Stine Eckert

    For this blog I concentrate on NBC's videos in the Latest Program, Web Only, and Politics section as well as on the First Read blog, which is part of MSNBC.

    Similar to last week the number of video clips about the U.S. election campaign has been high in number: The politics section of the NBC Nightly News online player is currently featuring election campaign video only. If a Martian would look into the list, it would think there is nothing else happening in the country. Isn’t there a current administration still working? Ah, of course, it’s this Bush person who we only hear about in connection with...the election! In an October 24, 2008 video we briefly can see the President Bush voting for his successor.

    For quality not a whole lot has changed, there is the detailed campaign trail coverage, who is where when saying what; the polls get their prominent share of attention and so do red-blue-yellow map;, issues are discussed marginally even the economy has moved somewhat to the back burner.

    A Complete Trilogy -- McCain/Palin Interview on NBC
    Finally the trilogy is complete and Sarah Palin has honored the third of the broadcast networks with a seven minute interview uploaded October 24, 2008. Brian Williams did a nice job in staying on the question of when she is going to release her medical records after she tried to evade the question for the first time. To his second direct question on this issue she replied: “I’m healthy, I’m happy, I had five children, that’s going to be in the medical records. I’ve never been seriously ill or hurt, you’ll see that in the medical records IF they’re released.” There you go, Brian.

    The other part of the interview included John McCain who spoke about his underdog position. In the same joint interview session Sarah Palin defines who is a terrorist, and both voiced their reaction to Colin Powell’s endorsement of Barack Obama.

    John McCain: “I know that if General Powell had wanted to meet Governor Palin, we could have arranged that easily. […]”
    Sarah Palin: “You received the endorsement of four former secretaries of state…”
    John McCain: ”Five former secretaries of state.”
    Sarah Palin: “Five, and hundreds of top military brass.”

    Early Voting Nationwide
    This October 24 report wraps up the early voting movement nationwide. With programs such as “vote & vacs” people get flu shots while doing their duty as citizens in a participatory democracy overall boosting voting records. By the way, President Bush and his wife have already voted, too.

    Why A Palm Tree in the Background Is Not Enough -- A Rather Useless Live Shot
    By now most people following the campaign coverage know about Barack Obama's family. Surprisingly, even his grandmother got some coverage this week as the senator flew to Hawaii to pay her a visit because she is ill. But also NBC’s Lee Cowan hurried to Honolulu: with water, wind, and a palm tree in the background, he mainly commented on a bunch of photos and some short video of Barack Obama boarding a plane. It is interesting to see how travel budgets for journalists are allocated for a few seconds of live scenes that say nothing but “I was here.”

    Where They Stand On Free Trade & Homeland Security

    Two more pieces haven been added to NBC’s Where They Stand collection, an October 24 video on free trade and a comparison on the candidates stance toward homeland security of October 26.
    NBC’s short clips of about 2 ½ minutes give brief overviews complete with bullet point lines. It’s good to see that issues still do play a role.

    Voting in Nevada – A Republican State Gone Toss-Up

    The Daily Nightly blog added some interesting background information about Latino voters in Nevada and other states ending on the note that Latin Americans feel if Obama wins, a Latino might, too in the future.

    Another state in the focuse... a four minute report examined the swing-y state Colorado, which just as NBC’s toss up report was over seemed have decided for Obama (as according to the same sources has Virginia reducing the number of undecided states from eight to six).

    But like NBC’s anchor Lester Holt put it: “Of course all of this could change between now and election day.” That’s another reason why concentrating on the issues is more useful to voters (i.e. serving the public) than clicking the refresh button every second on polls and maps.

    Sideline Issues -- Ted Stevens and International Attention
    At the sidelines Republican Alaskan Senator Ted Stevens has been found guilty on all seven accounts of giving false information about free gifts worth $250,000 he received, most of it connected to renovating Stevens’ house.

    Looking into the international mirror: Foreign journalists report about the U.S. election including France and Al-Jazeera.

    Confusing Dates

    Especially with the McCain/Palin interview I noticed an annoying feature of online video clips. Albeit the NBC Nightly News player is kind enough to give a summary of the video and a date when mousing over the thumbnail (unlike undated CBS Evening News clips) I've always wondered what the date stands for: the time of uploading or the time the event took place (that didn't seem to work out some clips). Video clips sometimes lack meta information about when an event happened if it is not mentioned within the video. Occasionally no date is listed at all and there is no anchor to guide you.

    Tuesday, October 21, 2008

    ABC.COM: Palin, Nails, and Pumpkins

    Nina Wieczorek

    Carve, Baby, Carve
    My nose froze immediately as I stepped out of the door into the ice cold morning air. Sunlight still hadn't touched anything and besides a chipmunk – which is actually THE chipmunk as I see it every day at the same place – there was no one to hear or to see. Until I turned around to take the steps downstairs...I moved my head but my still tired eyes were glued to a shining orange pumpkin in front of my neighbor's door. The motive they chose to carve into this little fruit tells more about them than just their artistic skills. It's Obama's campaign-for-change-sign.

    Express Yourself
    Besides pumpkins people found other creative ways to express their political feelings. Some paint the image of their favourite candidate on their nails or trash cans...

    Persistent Campaigning
    Perhaps they saw the pumpkin the other day when the people campaigning for the democratic candidate knocked on my appartment door – not for the first time. Once they want you to register, then to volunteer in their campaign. Engagement is good, but can't there also be too much?

    The Numbers Mark the Difference

    You can't have too much money or polling points, and John McCain could use both. In recent polls he is 9 points behind his rival and also in money raising he is not doing as well as Obama is. It's really remarkable how many stars back Obama and raise money for him and support him.

    ABC-TV: Final Debate - McCain, Obama, and Joe the Plumber

    Monique Ozanne

    He has given a visual to the term 'overnight celebrity'. Just days after ABC traveled to Holland, Ohio to follow Obama as he talked to local residents, Joe the Plumber, more correctly known as Sam Joe Wurzelbacher, became the focal point of the last presidential debate.

    I take special interest in the Joe story because I remember watching the conversation on ABC last week as they traveled through Ohio. I remember seeing Obama talk with this man who expressed his uncertainty about Obama's campaign. At the time I did not think too much of the interview, except that this man was the only interviewee to question Obama and express his concern about what Obama's possible presidency would do for him.

    Within days this man went from an interview to an important topic in the final debate. October surprise? Probably not. But Joe the plumber being mentioned 23 times during the debate did come as a surprise to many viewers and journalists. Following the debate ABC's Diane Sawyer brought Joe back into the spotlight to interview him about his reaction to being such a hot topic.

    During his interview with Sawyer, Wurzelbacher did not reveal who he was going to vote for, but encouraged people to remain educated and listen during these remaining few weeks. As far as being known as Joe the Plumber, Wurzelbacher said that his son was into the title, and he himself thought it was kind of neat.

    Colin Powell Endorses Obama
    On Sunday, former Secretary of State Colin Powell endorsed Barack Obama for president during his appearance on Meet the Press.

    Powell sees Obama as a transformational figure and new generation. Powell is concerned about McCain's choice of Sara Palin for VP, and said over the past few weeks he has seen that she is not ready to be Vice President. He said over the past weeks watching Obama, he has seen excitement and vigor, and sees Biden as a vice president that is ready to serve in office on day one.

    Powell also criticized McCain for his ads, and sees the negative campaigning addressing problems that are not central to the American people, and becoming too narrow. It was obvious Powell thought out and had prepared his reasons for endorsing Obama. On the issue of race, Powell also expressed how upset he was to see the attacks on Obama stemming from the Ayers scandal, and the claims of Obama being a Muslim. Powell defends Obama by saying he is and has always been a Christian, but what would be the problem if he was in fact a Muslim. Powell later goes on to answer the question of race in choosing Obama as his endorsement, and defends himself by saying that if he were choosing Obama solely based on race, he would have made his decision six to eight months ago.

    Two Weeks and Counting...
    With exactly two weeks left until the election, my thoughts are filled with stress and emotion. I find myself staying up late into the night reading articles that are published hourly about what the candidates are doing and where they are. I continue to keep track of the updates on the latest scandals and claims made against each party. The closer November 4 gets, the hungrier I get for information and my excitement grows. But then I turn on my TV, and see negative ads and find myself once again frustrated and disappointed, and think that all the reading and researching I have done is a waste. No matter how much we try to educate ourselves and rise above the negativity, something will find us and try to bring us down. So today, and hopefully for the next two weeks, I will take Joe's advice and just listen, remain educated, and keep my head above the sewage.

    NBC Finally Some Third Party Flavor

    by Stine Eckert

    For this blog I concentrate on NBC's videos in the Latest Program, Web Only, and Politics sections as well as on the First Read blog, which is part of MSNBC.

    Surprise, Surprise (This Time a Real One) – 16 minute Ralph Nader Interview
    After Senator Joe Biden’s suprising visit in Athens, OH – where this blog project is located – sparked lots of local and some national reports, one of my wishes for election coverage was somewhat fulfilled. (Of course one can always wish for more consistency.)

    But on Tuesday, October 20, 2008 I was really stunned to find a 16 minute interview with independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader in NBC’s Nightly News web only section. Even better it was not just some interview but NBC's Ron Allen’s questioning starts off pointedly: “You can’t win the presidency, why do you keep doing this?” Allen follows his rather aggressive path throughout the whole interview on corporate politics, tipping the election in 2000, his chances to win any state, on mass media treatment of him, election results, and what it takes to convince him to drop out of the current race. I kept thinking what axe does Allen have to grind with the old man? Seldomly, I have seen an interview in which the attitude of the journalist is so palpable. But see for yourself.

    Here’s the 16 minute expanded interview (which is really worth watching):

    For a short time brush up on Nader, here’s a typical 2 minutes television clip:

    By the way, did you know that Ralph Nader’s native language is Arabic, his parents came from Lebannon, he graduated from Princeton University and Havard Law School and served in the U.S. army? For some more Ralph Nader 101 (a la Wikipedia)please click here. By the way his running mate Matt Gonzalez's biography is presented in English and Spanish on their campaign’s website.

    How about a follow up featuring other third party candidates and a background piece on the obstacles they face in general in U.S. politics and elections?

    Suprise No. 2 -- Colin Powell endorses Obama and NBC Presents a Great Soundbite
    That’s the stuff I want to see on the Internet, a great extended interview with Colin Powell. For seven minutes he shares in a very intelligent and articulate way his fresh thoughts on how he weighed Sens. McCain and Obama against each other as well as the development of the Republican party to come to the conclusion that Obama is the best man for the U.S. Don’t miss out on this well spoken endorsement by Republican former Secretary of State General Colin Powell.

    Last, but not least... make this surprise party complete, a piece about the Republican side, an October 16, 2008 portrait of Todd Palin and his tentacles in Alaskan politics beyond just serving tea as a spouse of a state official.

    When will we hear more about Jill Biden?

    Back to Business as Usual - Last Debate Coverage
    An incredible flurry of at least two dozen videos surrounded THE debate on In addition to a clip featuring the whole 90 minutes of the event, NBC broke the debate into topical sections such as abortion, “the real McCain”, and of course Joe, the (non)-plumber. Also among the plenty, an eleven minute interview with John McCain’s senior campaign advisor Brian Jones...

    …and a five minute clip with six demographically-correct guinea pigs probed for their feelings and thoughts after the debate. However, NBC’s Ann Curry cuts a little bit of a teacher figure hovering awkwardly above them on a high chair in an artificial living room stage set. She first roll calls them, asks for hands on such questions as: “Who thinks John McCain was stronger on the economy tonight?” and then follows up by calling individual names. By the way, all six pupils swiftly raised their hands when Ann Curry asked if they believe that some people might not vote for McCain because of Sarah Palin.

    Mingling with the Youth - Sequel IV
    Sure enough Luke Russert mingled again with the future of the country to collect their ten cents in another pop journalism video with jolly background tunes that give such a bright feeling to the debates that one is prone to forget about the dark drowning economy for about four minutes.

    His final piece of college visits led him to Hofstra University, the epicenter of U.S. politics on Wednesday night (October 15, 2008). The youth were already sick of Joe the (non) plumber and the extended time spent on campaign evaluation. One woman who previously had favored Obama switched to McCain because of the Republican's fancy for nuclear energy, a conservatively socialized woman was converted to Obama’s side because of his health care approach, a third woman was still “on edge”.

    While this is the logical conclusion of his series of university visits during debates, it's probably among the weaker reports I've seen because it doesn't offer anything new.

    The Good Stuff - A Lawsuit and Being "Other"
    At the sidelines of the election frenzy the lawsuit of the Ohio Republicans has been crushed by the U.S. Supreme Court. Here’s a neat wrap up by NBC’s justice correspondent Pete Williams who puts law language into understandable talk.

    An almost four minute piece told from a first person perspective shows an interesting approach to a topic that affects millions of U.S. Americans--being of two or more races, being the other. A topic I hadn’t heard about much before was made into a touching piece about the population’s future not only in the USA but worldwide.

    And it is complimented by a very useful, informative, and well-designed feature: an interactive map that shows you the population of each state in terms of two or more races. Data comes from the U.S. Census Bureau which is indicated in a little credit button. More maps of that sort please!

    Left Over Criticism
    The only complaint that is left for me this week is the absence of Jill Biden and the usual suspects, issues such as science, communication and Internet policy. Plus, an article in the German prestigious political weekly magazine Spiegel hinted at the fact that Sarah Palin is the only one in the major candidate quartet who has not showed her health records yet to the public or journalists. Wouldn’t this be a helpful piece in the otherwise extensive Palin coverage?

    Interviews seem to be the strength of mass media online these days at least when it comes to NBC NBC will air an interview with John McCain and Sarah Palin on Wednesday and Thursday (October 22 and 23, 2008).