November Carnival of Journalism: What would the Obama campaign do?

Pretty much every single industry that involves convincing consumers that your product, or idea, or business is a great idea has been strafed with a raft of “What [Your Industry Here] Can Learn From Barack Obama” blog posts lately, and journalism is no exception.

This month’s Carnival of Journalism, which I’m late for due to an incredibly busy everything right now, asks the question.

I’m going to cede my space to ruminate on that one to Sean Blanda’s excellent post on how to design like Barack Obama:

“Originally created for GQ by Jonathan Hoefler and Tobias Frere-Jones, the Gotham font was meant to be masculine and fresh, which aren’t bad adjectives for a political campaign.  If you are interested, the makers of Helvetica interviewed the creators about their thought process when setting the typeface.  But what regular designers can learn from Obama is not only his font selection, but the discipline to create a design and stick to it, much like good politicians stay on message.”

Read the whole thing…

Why I’m voting for Barack Obama

[Let’s get the usual disclaimer out of the way, first things first.]

For those of you who haven’t noticed that I have a political point of view, forgive the intrusion, but this is my Election Day editorial, and for that matter, it’s my name on the masthead, so I pretty much get to say what I want here, right?

Don’t worry, this won’t take long.

I’m voting for Barack Obama because it changes the world.

Not because he will be the first African-American U.S. President, or because I agree with every single plank in this cycle’s Democratic platform (I don’t), or because I think he is my new bicycle, but because at this time in history, the strongest, most positive, most important message we can send the rest of the planet is this:

The American Dream is still alive. And so is democracy.  Because if Obama can grow up to be President of the United States, so can my daughter, and your son, and their friends, and their children, none of whom happen to be descended from the hale and hearty folks who came over on the Mayflower, puking and praying and putting up with the likes of John Winthrop all the way across.

So yeah, Winthrop was right.  America does have a chance to be that city on a hill, but the message isn’t some Reagan-era crap about how we’re right and everyone else is wrong; the message is that we know what’s right, and we’ll do our best to make it right for everyone.

And we’ll start in the voting booth around the corner, standing in line with our friends and families and neighbors, trying to make things right.  If things go well, maybe we won’t wake up Wednesday morning mumbling about leaving this country for good.

Hope

On IdeaLab: Can the political press grow a spine with a little help from you?

I interviewed Jay Rosen today on IM about his spinewatch project, which encourages journalists, bloggers, and citizens in general to point out moments when the political press on the campaign trail shows evidence of needing to grow one, or of having grown one.

Jay:

“But the rules and assumptions underlying the fact checking regime are vulnerable to challenge from any campaign that a) doesn’t care if it’s called out, b) is willing to deny in a flat, affectless way realities as plain as the nose on Jay Carney’s shellshocked face, and c) has incorporated attacks on the news media into the heart of its appeal to voters.

In response to this extraordinary challenge to one of the most legitimate “checking” functions they have, journalists need a stronger spine; they have to call out the strategic use of deception and the amazing retreat from empiricism that we have seen from the McCain camp. And if Obama starts doing the same thing, they need a stiff spine for that too.”

Read the whole thing, which includes details on how and why Jay is encouraging the use of Twitter, Publish2, and other tools to monitor the status of the backbone of the press.

FEC elates strange bedfellows with political blogging ruling – ars technica

I’ve been following this thread for a few years now. The FEC has been getting this right for some time now, correctly positing that free speech is free speech, even when it’s political, and that speech doesn’t count as a political contribution. That seems pretty clear, but this ruling confirms it yet again. via @journerdism this time.

FEC elates strange bedfellows with political blogging ruling – ars technica

Generation gap

So I’ve been reading this book my Dad sent me a few weeks ago.

It’s not that impressive so far (about 100 pages in).  The mentions in the title of MySpace and YouTube seem to have been tacked on in order to sell books, fittingly enough, and the authors make their political alignments clear from the start.

But what I am enjoying are the bits of theory about political re-alignment based on generational changes.

For example, generations are broken down into types:  Civic and Idealistic are two of them.

The Baby Boomers (read as: aging editors, j-school faculty, columnists, and older reporters) are an Idealistic generation, the book tells us.

The Millenials (read as: the young interns and fresh-faced multitaskers causing all sorts of ruckuses in your newsrooms with their blogging and whatnot) are a Civic generation.

The Idealists came of age in the 1960s.  They focus on morals – right and wrong, black and white.  That concentration of resources on debatable and subjective issues (like, say, objectivity) make for a slow moving government (or news organization).  Voters become disillusioned, participation drops, and authority figures are not looked upon kindly.

A Civic generation, on the other hand, like the current Millenials (born between around 1980 and 1994 or so, depending on which reference you consult) or the G.I. Generation, is more pragmatic.  They use new communication technologies to get things done.  They’re committed to political involvement, believe in the system, and participate in great numbers.

(An aside: I’m old enough to qualify for Generation X, the disconnected, disaffected grunge-listeners that fell in between these sexier re-alignment cycles.)

All this is just to say that I do believe age has something to do with innovation, especially when it comes to the news business.

I alluded to some persistent “generational frustration” the other day when I was declaring my independence from a generalization, and then the post wandered away from that notion a bit.

But I’ll say this: I’m excited to see where this Civic generation takes news.

It’s not going to be the same place that the previous generation took it.  This generation’s news will look more like the work of Holovaty and Sites than Woodward and Bernstein, because they’re simply not the same people.

The influences are different, the reasoning is different, the thought process and the toolset are different.  And so is the audience, if we can still call them that for a fleeting moment before the familiar models of storyteller and listener completely and finally break down.

Further reading: