July 18, 2003
By Stephen Warley
The campaign of former Vermont Governor and Democratic Presidential candidate Howard Dean, in May of this year, took politics a step further into the digital age with the launch of Howard Dean TV. Using the latest broadband technologies from TVTonic by Wavexpress, voters will have unprecedented access to speeches, Q&As and video of Dean, all via the Web. Volunteers from across the country will capture video of Dean along the campaign trail to be distributed on his official Web site. Recently I had the opportunity to ask Dean about the impact of this technology on his campaign and on politics in America.
SW: Governor, what exactly is Howard Dean TV?
DEAN: Howard Dean TV is essentially a way of getting our message out unfiltered over the Internet. It’s been terrific. It’s really been a great success.
It allows people to go onto the Net, where they are able to see the direct message without being snipped into little sound bites and without being filtered by Rupert Murdoch and “fair and balanced coverage”.
SW: What specifically can people watch as you go along the campaign trial?
DEAN: There are actually a group of people who are doing videos of various speeches and Q&As, so people get a pretty good idea of what it is like to ask questions because other people are going to think of the same questions they have. If somebody wants to tune in, it is just a great way of seeing lot of things that the press won’t cover.
SW: I noticed something called “Meet Ups” on your Web site, could you tell me a little bit about that?
DEAN: We have 30,000 people around the country now who are volunteering for Dean. They go to our Web site at DeanforAmerica.com and then there is a link to MeetUp.com.
They can sign up and meet with people once a month. There is a big meeting tomorrow night in 300 cities around the country. These folks can get involved with the campaign directly.
In New York they are helping us to get on the ballot. In California they are raising our name recognition by making phone calls. Every state is doing something different. In the next biggest campaign there are 1,000 of these volunteers, so we are doing great as far as people who are really understanding how the Internet works.
SW: How does this new technology platform change your relationship with voters?
DEAN: It is serving as direct communications to the voters. They can ask us questions directly, one way or other, and we can answer them directly with a whole answer, not just part of the answer.
SW: How does this change the playing field for candidates that don’t necessarily have a huge campaign war chest?
DEAN: It bypasses a lot of the media filter that we have. The other thing it does is enable us to get in touch with people who really passionately care about the campaign.
There is an enormous intensity about this campaign because people can touch us directly and let us know what they think and get direct answers.
SW: How do you think this will help promote democracy and generate interest in politics among Americans, particularly younger people?
DEAN: Younger people I think have really been turned off by politics. First of all, because they don’t think there is much difference between the parties, which isn’t true, but that’s what they think.
The other thing is that younger people have a very high sensitivity to BS and there is an enormous amount of BS in politics. This campaign is not about BS, it’s the “unBS” campaign.
When they see us on Howard Dean TV being direct, it just helps a lot because they get some sense of who I am, and that you cannot get through tailored advertisements that are paid for by high-priced consultants.
(Originally published in TVSpy. Reprinted with permission.)
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Stephen Warley has made a career out of assessing the future direction of television. From producing for CBS News and CNBC to working as a project manager for interactive media agencies like ThirdAge and Osprey Communications, he has gained an insider’s view as to where tomorrow’s content and business opportunities lie in the video media industries. He is currently an MBA candidate at Fordham University with concentrations in media management and finance. He can be contacted at email@example.com.