From L to R, Abbi, Matt, Ross, Terence, and Phillip
Just got back from an interesting panel about the impact of new media on the election, sponsored by the Perley Isaac Reed School of Journalism at WVU as part of Journalism Week and the recurring Festival of Ideas. The only reason I mention this is because you might know some of the participants, who included Abbi Tatton from CNN, Big Media Matt and Ross Douthat from the Atlantic, Terrence Samuel from the WaPo’s theRoot.com, Phillip de Vellis (the guy who created the 1984/Hillary youtube video), and moderated by Michael Tomasky, who turns out to be a WVU grad. Ana Marie Cox was supposed to be there and was a no-show, as she was allegedly covering the McCain Biography tour. Personally, I think she was guttered at a bar downtown, because as anyone in Morgantown can tell you, Thursday is the big party night.
I won’t bore you with all the gory details, and a lot of it was clearly inside baseball that was over the heads of many of the students who were in the crowd, but I will go quickly through some of my thoughts:
1.) Abbi Tatton is very, very tiny, and desperately in need of a sandwich (although I can report that her ass was a topic of much discussion for several of the male students seated behind me). Her accent appears much more pronounced in person, and she is as pleasant in person as she is on camera.
2.) Big Media Matt looks exactly like he does in his profile, and exactly like he does on bloggingheadstv. He clearly was enjoying himself, and appears to really get along well with Ross Douthat.
3.) Ross reminded me less of a conservative writer than he did a sociology teacher who sleeps with his students. Think Donald Sutherland in Animal House. He really is quite interesting, and was the fastest with a quip and really seemed to “get” the topic at hand.
4.) Terence Samuel started off shaky, and at first didn’t seem to have much to offer on this topic as he really was, until recently a traditional journalist. Once he became more comfortable with the format, he had some interesting things to say.
5.) Phillip was the “coolest” one on the lot, and clearly was less of an academic/reporter than the others and someone you would expect to run into at work. I don’t mean that in a negative way, he just reminded me of my buddies in the Business school or guys who would go into advertising.
Overall, there was a great deal of discussion that will be really hard to summarize, but I will promise to link to it later once WVU has it prepared for digital media. One thing that was really interesting was the back to back display of the Yes, We Can Obama video and the John, He Is. The student body got hysterical, and Matt made a really interesting point. Both he and Phillip agreed that their first thoughts when they saw the yes, We Can video was “Great. Just what the Democrats need, to get all cozy with Hollywood.” But Matt then pointed out that this is such a self-selecting, bifurcated audience that the people who would be repulsed by the coziness with Hollywood figures probably won’t see the video anyway, because they don’t use the internet (somethign Ross reiterated later when he noted that “McCain appears to be going after the ‘crotchety people who don’t use the internet vote.'”).
At any rate, it was a lot of fun, and I wish I had had a chance to meet Matt, but I was chasing someone down to find out if the presentation would be put online, and when I finally got an answer and made my way back to the ballroom, they had left the stage. Oh, well.
As a side note, I became very self-conscious about my age as the presentation started to wind down. All of the students were murmuring (all the teachers out there know what I am talking about, when a large lecture class begins to collectively decide it is time for class to end), I could hear whispers about Red Bull and Vodka and “Ladies Night,” and it occurred to me that I may have been the only one in my area of the seating who was upset about it winding down, and that my exciting plans for the night were to go home and blog about blogging before watching BSG.