al gore and participatory media

Al Gore delivered a keynote yesterday at the We Media conference in Yew York. Half indictment of complacent American media, and half ad for his new participatory television venture, Current TV, the speech hit on a number of salient issues. Here are a few clips:

I came here today because I believe that American democracy is in grave danger. It is no longer possible to ignore the strangeness of our public discourse. I know that I am not the only one who feels that something has gone basically and badly wrong in the way America’s fabled “marketplace of ideas” now functions.

How many of you, I wonder, have heard a friend or a family member in the last few years remark that it’s almost as if America has entered “an alternate universe”?

I thought maybe it was an aberration when three-quarters of Americans said they believed that Saddam Hussein was responsible for attacking us on September 11, 2001. But more than four years later, between a third and a half still believe Saddam was personally responsible for planning and supporting the attack….

Clearly, the purpose of television news is no longer to inform the American people or serve the public interest. It is to “glue eyeballs to the screen” in order to build ratings and sell advertising. If you have any doubt, just look at what’s on: The Robert Blake trial. The Laci Peterson tragedy. The Michael Jackson trial. The Runaway Bride. The search in Aruba. The latest twist in various celebrity couplings, and on and on and on.

And more importantly, notice what is not on: the global climate crisis, the nation’s fiscal catastrophe, the hollowing out of America’s industrial base, and a long list of other serious public questions that need to be addressed by the American people…

The greatest source of hope for reestablishing a vigorous and accessible marketplace for ideas is the Internet. Indeed, Current TV relies on video streaming over the Internet as the means by which individuals send us what we call viewer-created content or VC squared. We also rely on the Internet for the two-way conversation that we have every day with our viewers enabling them to participate in the decisions on programming our network.

If Gore keeps this up, I may have to take the title of “Best ex-President” away from Carter and give it to him. (The complete text of his speech can be found here.)

For more information on the We Media event, check out the site of former TV reporter turned blogger Rebecca MacKinnon. I’m sure others blogged from the conference as well, but her coverage was the first I found… And, if you’re interested in going even deeper, I know that at least one of the panels was podcast. (If you know of others, please leave a comment.)

From what little I’ve seen thus far, it seems like a great event, and, if things actually work out for our own little community reporting endeavor, the Ypsi Sentinel, I think I’d like to attend next year, assuming they do it again. (As for the Sentinel, progress is being made, and we should have an announcement shortly. Stay tuned.)

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One Comment

  1. Posted October 7, 2005 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    Best Ex-President?

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