New Media Revolutionize DNC

Kane Farabaugh
Democrats assembled in Charlotte, North Carolina to nominate President Barack Obama for a second term promised the event will be the “most open and accessible convention in history.”  That is being made possible in part by the contributions of new media producers who are providing content to new audiences online.

An experiment, known as the "PPL", is under the direction of Bruce Clark.  He describes it as an alternative newsroom of sorts for the kind of media that either can’t afford, or can’t get into, traditional media spaces at the Democratic National Convention.

“To juxtapose that against all the digital content creators, all the future of media, has been quite an interesting experiment," Clark explains.  “The digital age has allowed us to tear down a lot of walls and allow access to folks who generally wouldn’t have access to information.”

Those folks, working in a room just a few blocks from the convention, include bloggers, Instagrammers, Tweeters and independent filmmakers like Tim Grant.

"New media has changed convention coverage just by the scope of the coverage," Grant says.  "The ability to tweet what you see, you know, take a picture at any moment.  It’s so broad now.  You can type in hash tag DNC and you’re getting a hundred new tweets every other minute.”

During the first night of the DNC, that figure was not in the hundreds, but in the thousands, setting new records, according to Twitter’s Adam Sharp.

“Before Michelle Obama had even started her speech, she had broken the record for the Republican convention," Sharp notes. "Finishes her speech at 28,000 tweets per minute.  Almost exactly double Mitt Romney, and interesting enough, double her husband’s performance at the State of the Union earlier this year.”

Sharp says the online service Twitter, which allows users to send and read text-based messages, has changed the way politicians, reporters, and content producers reach audiences.

“We’ve moved from a 24-hour news cycle to a 140-character one,” Sharp says.

But while filmmaker Tim Grant welcomes the access, and the flood of options to get his online news that comes from it, he says there is a downside.

“The filter is gone, and in some ways I think that hurts, because you don’t know what to look for," he says. "You don’t know what to trust in some cases.  But I think that if you really wanted to find something out, you have the access now, you don’t have to depend on just a handful of networks.”

Those networks now have to compete with new media producers who can reach audiences at a fraction of the cost.

Photo Gallery: 2012 Democratic National Convention

  • President Barack Obama waves after his speech at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, September 6, 2012.
  • Vice President Joe Biden and President Barack Obama wave to the delegates at the conclusion of President Obama's speech at the Democratic National Convention, September 6, 2012.
  • President Barack Obama and First lady Michelle Obama joined by their children Sasha, left, and Malia walks across the stage after President Obama's speech to the Democratic National Convention.
  • U.S. President Barack Obama (L) embraces former President Bill Clinton onstage after Clinton nominated Obama for re-election during the second session of Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, September 5, 2012
  • U.S. President Barack Obama (L) joins former President Bill Clinton onstage after Clinton nominated Obama for re-election during the second session of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, September 5, 2012.
  • Former President Bill Clinton addresses the Democratic National Convention, Charlotte, North Carolina, September 5, 2012
  • First Lady Michelle Obama waves after addressing the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, September 3, 2012.
  • Delegates cheer as First lady Michelle Obama addresses the Democratic National Convention, Charlotte, North Carolina, September 4, 2012. (J. Featherly/VOA)
  • Delegates recite the Pledge of Allegiance at the opening of the Democratic National Convention, Charlotte, North Carolina, September 4, 2012. (J. Featherly/VOA)
  • A woman records the invocation at the Democratic National Convention, Charlotte, North Carolina, September 4, 2012. (J. Featherly/VOA)
  • Delegates await the start of the first day of the convention, September 4, 2012.
  • A group of third grade students rehearse saying the Pledge of Allegiance ahead of the first day of the convention in Time Warner Cable Arena, September 4, 2012.
  • Advertisements for the DNC line the walls at the Charlotte Douglas International Airport.
  • Protesters block an intersection near the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina for several hours while surrounded by police who allow the demonstration to continue, September 4, 2012. (J. Featherly/VOA)
  • Delegates tour the floor ahead of the convention, September 3, 2012. (J. Featherly/VOA)
  • Programs laid out for guests inside the convention center. (J. Featherly/VOA)
  • The Charlotte, North Carolina skyline seen through the window of an airplane, September 2, 2012.
  • President Barack Obama's campaign manager Jim Messina tours the floor at the Democratic National Convention, September 3, 2012.
  • Delegates and Democratic National Convention visitors crowd one of the merchandise stores in Charlotte, September 3, 2012. (J. Featherly/VOA)
  • Delegates await the start of the first day of the Democratic National Convention, September 4, 2012.
  • A 15-ton sand sculpture of President Obama is on display outside the convention. The sand comes from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. (J. Featherly/VOA)
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by: Chris Cassidy from: Washington, DC
September 07, 2012 6:42 PM
The discussion of The PPL in the article is the same kind of surface-level investigation that lead me to spend $80 for access and wifi there this week. I also convinced a small handful of friends to spend $125 each (for late-registration.)

We were very disappointed to find that The PPL fell down on its most fundamental job (besides protecting us from the rain, I suppose.) The wifi at The PPL was utterly unworkable all week long.

I was embarrassed to have wasted my money and my friends' money trusting these folks, but I swallowed my pride to reach out for an explanation and/or reimbursement. I spoke with leadership at The PPL in person and sent two emails, but didn't receive so much as a reply, let alone an apology or the money we deserve back.

It's really too bad. At best, this place was an entrepreneurial disaster run by well-intentioned folk ill-equipped to deal with their surprising failure. Without even the courtesy of an acknowledgement that they fell down on the job, however, it seems less innocuous than that.

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