Blogger conference call with Chris Murphy

(Cross posted at My Left Nutmeg.)

This afternoon, Chris Murphy had a conference call with bloggers to announce his new Web Video. He spoke briefly about how they made the video. It was not scripted out but was simply him talking extemporaneously to the camera. There was a desire to not be cookie cutter.

Key messages of the video are to talk about Chris’ deep connection with the district and to focus on the positive. All of this comes in the context of MoveOn’s advertisements and Nancy Johnson’s attacks on Chris.

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The Language of online political videos

(Cross posted at Greater Democracy)

In college, I majored in philosophy before dropping out. What I know about politics, I’ve learned on the campaign trail, and what I know about filmmaking, I learned from watching Siskel and Ebert as they talked about which way they would point there thumbs.

However, I’ve now been blogging for several years, which gives me a right, if not a responsibility to opine on any subject that strikes my fancy, and so today I want to talk about online political videos.

At the Personal Democracy Forum conference this year, one of the liveliest and most interesting panels was “Is Online Video More Powerful Than TV Ads?” I’ve been thinking a lot about this. The Nedheads group on YouTube has done a great job of gathering videos in support of Ned Lamont, whose campaign I’m currently working for. From this interest, I’ve ended up as a convener of the Media Giraffe Project’s Citizen Filmmaking Track which will be at University of Massachusetts, Amherst on July 29th.

What makes for good online political videos? This is perhaps too general a question, since there are really many different types of online political videos, but it seems as if there are some key ingredients. Like any other medium, they need to get the message across, ideally both directly and indirectly. More importantly, they need to have the sort of appeal that causes people to spread the word virally.

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"I won't be able to knock on everybody's door.."

... but he made an online video to talk about it.

Meet Chris Murphy

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Ripple of Hope Speech

"It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance."

Probably, many of you have heard this quote before. I think it is a quote which continues to resonate. But I wonder, how many of you know who said it, as well as when and where they said it? How many of you have read that speech or listened to it or are familiar with the context within which it was delivered?

The speech was given by Robert Kennedy forty years ago today, on June 6th, 1966 during his important visit to South Africa. Some friends of mine are making a documentary film about Senator Kennedy’s visit to South Africa and are currently raising funds to complete the post-production phase of the film.

Please celebrate the fortieth anniversary of this speech by visiting

http://community.rfksa.org to listen to the speech and download a recording of it. Please find out about the film and contribute to it to help ensure that this film is available to a new generation of leaders that will speak boldly against oppression.

The financing of the film is being managed by the 501(c)3 non-profit, South African American Organization, so your contributions are tax deductible.

If you can spread the word about this to others it would be greatly appreciated.

Full Discloser: I am getting paid to create and promote the website.

FBI, CLP, MBA and EFF

Over on Connecticut Local Politics, people have posted blog entries under the usernames "Harry Reid" and "Barak [sic] Obama". The Journal Inquirer has a report that “A Hartford lawyer says the FBI has agreed to investigate postings promoting Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman's re-election on a popular Connecticut-based Internet "blog" in the names of Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill.”

There is a long discussion about this over at Connecticut Local Politics. Instead of simply adding another comment to that thread, I thought it was worthwhile to write my own longer blog post about it.

Were people on CLP libeled? Did the posters commit criminal impersonation? Is this an appropriate investigation for the FBI? As a supporter of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, I worry about action that could curtail discussions online. As a member of the Media Bloggers Association, I get particularly nervous when I see legal action being pursued against people that blog or in this case comment on blogs.

Does posting under the username of a famous person constitute impersonating that person? Unlike the person from Hartford, I am not a lawyer, but it seems to me as if a "reasonable man" would not believe that the people posting are in fact Harry Reid or Barack Obama. As to whether or not what the person posted constitutes libel, I’ll leave that for courts to decide if it ever gets this far.

A few other things to consider. When I was working on one political blog, one person commented, pretending to be a staffer of a key elected official in Hartford. People from the official’s office called and asked me to take down the post. I pointed out that even if I did take it down it would remain in various records online, such as archive.org or the cache at Google for a long time, and in my opinion it would be better to have a statement from the office that the comment was not from a staffer. They said that they still preferred the comment to be deleted and I reluctantly did so.

In another case, staffers of an elected official did post to a local blog and the blogmaster successfully tracked the post to an office in Washington. This was a pretty clear violation of laws about what government employees can do during their work time from government offices. I don’t know what the final outcome was. I don’t believe any legal action was pursued, but the actions were stopped.

Whether or not there was in fact criminal activity involved in the posts under the usernames “Harry Reid” and “Barak Obama” to CLP, the behavior did seem over the top to me and I do hope that the CLP community finds more constructive ways of dealing with inappropriate content.

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