Tuesday, September 23, 2008

NBC News.com: Background, Berettas, and Breaks

by Stine Eckert

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

Good NBC Online Background

Yesterday (Sept. 22) two long interviews with Sens. Barack Obama (19 minutes) and John McCain (10 minutes) were uploaded to provide more detailed background on their stances toward THE topic, the economy. So for everyone who has been sound bitten too often, here are the full version, a great boon to the public. Thanks NBC, that's part of the beauty of online journalism!

But Nightly News features more background on issues and the candidates’ takes on them in two series.

One of them is called Where They Stand, which is neatly archived online reaching back to the first issue comparing candidate’s approaches on education from Feb. 24, 2008. Currently 13 videos are available including their takes on the economy, health insurance, Iraq, environment, immigration, and providing change.

The other one is Briefing Book: Issues ’08 and not only gives the positions of the candidates but provides more background on why dealing with China, Iran, and Pakistan is so important to U.S. foreign policy. The series features text, sometimes video, and further links to articles concerning topics such as same-sex marriage, energy, immigration, taxes, globalization as well as medicare & social security. It replicates somewhat the Where They Stand series and is uploaded once a week.

The two series are a good start toward a more issue-oriented election coverage but it would be desirable to extend the topic list to more (detailed) issues including climate change, science & technology, abortion, gun control, crime, food regulation, Internet and communication laws, and government reform as well as U.S. foreign policy concerning Latin America, Africa (especially Darfur), Europe (especially Russia as a rising power and the E.U. as a major trading partner), Afghanistan and North Korea.

More Background Online

There are a couple a great websites for more background. Number one claims to sum up the stance of every candidate on every issue for not only federal positions: www.issue2000.org Another great website that the First Read blog referred to is www.factcheck.org. In the upper left hand side of their homepage, there is a link to a short videocast summing up all fact gaffes of the week.

‘Don’t Fool With My Beretta’
Democratic Vice Presidential Candidate Sen. Joe Biden seems to be as gun toting as what is usually stereotypical Republican. So far the election campaign has not often mentioned weapon issues – except for the almost mantra-like repeated hunting habit of Gov. Sarah Palin – and it came as a surprise when Sen. Biden commented on the issue in front of coal miners as a post of the First Read blog reported on Sept. 20, 2008: “The Delaware senator predicted that Republicans would seek to sway voters by threatening that Obama would take away guns. Biden, claiming to be a gun-owner […] said: ‘Barack Obama ain’t taking my shotguns, so don't buy that malarkey. […] If he tries to fool with my Beretta, he's got a problem.’

What is Sen. Obama’s stance on the 2nd Amendment?

There Are Breaks from Election Coverage -- For Better or For Worse
Sunday especially and the weekend in general seem to be a day without election coverage. It seems kind of odd that during the period in which many U.S. citizens would have more time to read and inform themselves about the election no current coverage is offered. But maybe this is not the worst thing I have discovered this week but a welcome break in the never ceasing blips about who is where with whom saying what when in what manner. For the sake of consistency and to use the Internet’s full potential for public service it would make more sense to continue coverage between Friday noon and Sunday night.

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