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“Meet The New Press” and The Election of 2008

Saturday, April 14, 2007  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

I spent three quarters of an hour with the three hosts –Doug Lambert,  Skip Murphy and Patrick Hynes–of New Hampshire’s WEMJ’s “Meet The New Press,” talking mostly about A Mormon In the White House? but also about the impact of new media on the ’08 election.

I will be on a panel at the National Association of Broadcasters on Monday devoted to 2008 election media strategy, and the three bloggers who run this radio show and podcast are the perfect example of what is going on largely underneath MSM/’s radar. 

Their radio show reaches the three central counties of New Hampshire.  Their blogs and newspaper columns reinforce their message, and their podcast of their show can travel to any interested observer of the Granite State’s political debates.  Expect all the GOP contenders (and the smart Democrats who want to talk to independents) to drop in –often– and to include these citizen journalists in their media releases.  (One of the hosts, Patrick Hynes of Ankle Biting Pundits is a McCain consultant but a very fair host of the show.)

What this show does is very similar to what the Northern Alliance radio programs have done in Minnesota, and what Backbone Radio is doing in Colorado –providing a new media outlet for citizen journalist conservatives, an outlet reinforced and supported by blogger networks in the states.  Every talk radio station in the country should be looking for bloggers to learn the basics of radio so that their call letters become a destination listen on the weekend, a stop that influences week day listening patters, and a regular mention on a region’s biggest blogs.

Speaking of new media’s influence, here is the transcript of my interview with Rudy Giuliani from yesterday, and here is my interview with him from February.  My goal with interviews of all the candidates, as it was with the Romney book, is to avoid the breathlessness of MSM and the news cycle driven attempt to get “gotchas” which seems to motivate so many MSMers, but to instead use all of the interviews to present more comprehensive views of the candidates.  Thus there’s a lot of emphasis on biography, and on bigger issues, not exclusively or even primarily the latest headlines.  I think all of the candidates, left, right and center, would be well served to find as many journalists as possible willing to conduct long form interviews backed up by preparation and genuine curiosity, and to spend an hour or two with them rather ten to 15 minutes with dozens of scribblers and talkers.  The long form is the best way to actually engage a voter who is on the fence.  The wide-open forums that Romney has been conducting are also an excellent approach to engaging the electorate, but in the age of citizen journalism and new media, the idea that engaging Beltway media in press avails or giving “big speeches” which are sliced and diced by MSM as means of getting through to voters seems not merely out of date but anachronistic. Center-right voters especially don’t want candidates empowering MSMers to set the political agenda via their questions (and their implicit assumptions and obvious agendas.) 

Candidates who want to talk to voters should go where voters listen and spend a lot of time answering a series of questions put forward in a coherent order.  The weekend hosts –and of course the weekday hosts as well– are a great way to get and retain the sustained attention of the crucial audiences.

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