I was really looking forward to the CNN/YouTube Democratic debate last night.
It seemed like it could be a perfect combination. Old media meets the new.
Detente on the great stage of digital media convergence. The best of breed, where the candidates would be forced to listen to the people, then speak directly back to them.
One-to-many, and many-to-one.
It was not to be.
Start with the depixellation of demoing YouTube-sized videos on the massive audience video screens. The impact of the questioners' often very personal and intimate questions was lost in 1080p translation.
Second, it was clearly a 21st Century user-generated media format crammed into a 20th Century Q&A debate format, whereby the candidates were forced to issue 1-minute sound byte responses to detailed and yes, even sometimes seemingly biased, questions.
For Heaven's sake, I don't necessarily want hours of Lincoln-Douglas style debating, but on the other hand, let the candidates answer the ---- questions with some substance.
Per Jeff Jarvis' post earlier on the topic, let the people ask and choose the questions. Create an online voting system whereby We the People get to choose what questions the candidates must answer, not the CNN editorial staff.
Finally, instead of the usual politico talking heads, bring in some mere mortal commentators who can, from a laypersons' perspective. help summarize what We the People heard and try and discern who seemed the most responsive to the questions, who had the most intelligent and thoughtful responses, who fell flat on their face, etc.
If I wanted to hear what CNN's political commentators had to say, much as I respect them, I can tune into "The Situation Room" any night of the week.
The user-generated media are just that, and that's what the traditional mass media still don't understand.
Which is why I suspect the continental digital divide between YouTube and CNN will continue long into the 2008 election campaign season and perhaps even beyond.