Monday, September 29, 2008

NBC Extended, Historic, and No Videos

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.

Apart from the obvious: the first presidential debate and reactions from first-time, independent, and undecided voters, and continuing coverage about the candidates take on the economic crisis, and Sarah Palin's struggle to answer to Katie Couric's questions (coherently), there were a number of remarkable videos on NBC Nightly News online -- and one lemon.

Extended Videos
NBC provided another gem of online video journalism: a great video from Sept. 23, 2008 of an extended interview with Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili in which he details his views on all presidential and vice presidential candidates.

Here are some snippets of President Saakashvili tip-toeing around who is his favorite politician among the quartet:

Sen. Joe Biden (D-Delaware):

“He is an old friend […] amazingly smart and competent on Georgia’s issue.”
Gov. Sarah Palin (R-Alaska):
“I had a brief chat with her when she got nominated, she called me back to Georgia. [She is] very interactive, very amicable, […] she made a really good impression.”
Sen. Barack Obama (D-Illinois):
He says Sen. Obama has showed the same competence and level of support as Sen. McCain: “When he called me [during the conflict with Russia] he was very well prepared. He really understood the issue and made some very good statements […]which supported my people morally.”
Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona):
“Sen. McCain I first met many, many years ago in the mid-90s. I was a young parliamentarian; he was already an important senator and he was very much interested in our judiciary reforms, legal reforms and we kept in touch with them ever since then. He’s visited Georgia many times. […] Sen. McCain is someone who inspired me personally for many years.”

Here’s some context:

President Saakashvili:
“During the conflict [with Russia] I spoke almost every day with Sen. Obama and Sen. McCain […] On the second day of the conflict when everyone was expressing their solidarity Sen. Biden called: ’I know everyone is calling for solidarity but I’m not calling for that, I want to submit to the Senate Committee a, b, c, d.’ I hung up the phone and thought, wow, this is the first guy that means business. But Sen. McCain was also extremely supportive, extremely helpful. He had been talking for years that something like that would happen, it was not new for him, he had anticipated it and his worst expectations came true.”

The interview gives a fascinating insight into Georgian-U.S. relations. Saakashvili also talked about the recent warring between Georgia and Russia likening Russia’s claim that Georgia attacked first to the German Nazi Party’s excuse to start WW II because of an attack by Poland. Saakashvili went on to say that every politician bears some blame in this game.

Isn’t it amazingly great that broadband connections, server space, and online video journalism make it possible to bring the presidents of the world into our homes at our whim replaying answers as we wish?

It would be interesting to know who initiated the NBC interview, NBC or Georgia, other U.S. individuals to back up Georgia and show strong ties with the East European country?

By the way, NBC Nightly News online has a great collection of 40 extended interviews section in its web only section including talks with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi the Venezuelan ambassador to the USA Bernardo Alvarez, U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan William Wood, former Columbian presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt who got freed after six years in captivity by FARC rebels as well as Bill Gates, Al Gore, the Clintons, McCain, General Petraeus and other U.S. figures.

Historic Videos
NBC Nightly News provided several pleasant surprises. NBC provided eleven(!) historic videos of former debates including the very first ever televised debate in 1960 with Democrat John F. Kennedy and Republican Richard Nixon. The clip’s reporter talks about the importance of images as Kennedy’s “good looks” helped him triumph over a “pale” Nixon “without make-up”.

The other videos give impressions of the debates between 1976 and 2004.
One of the most interesting at the moment might be an exciting clip that runs for almost five-minutes and features a part of the first vice-presidential debate of October 15, 1976 in which Democrat Walter Mondale and Republican Bob Dole debate about Nixon’s Vietnam policy. The anchor announces that probably about 85 million viewers will watch this debate, which was broadcast from Houston, Texas. This video is again a great service to the public as a lead up the first presidential debate of this election season provided by NBC’s online editors who sometimes do use their archives and the Internet’s potential to provide such neat extras.

No Video

On Saturday (Sept. 27, 2008) there was unfortunately a video that promised “reactions from seven undecided voters to the first presidential debate” but upon clicking on the thumbnail and impatiently enduring the advertisement the suffers a disappointment: White on blue it read: “Due to usage restriction we are unable to provide this video.” Why didn’t NBC just take it from their video array? Please, don’t promise what you can’t deliver.

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