Standard FishbowlNY procedure is that we’ll go anywhere for a free breakfast. And so we found ourselves at the Time Warner Center this morning for Internet Week’s “Conversations on the Circle: News & Politics,” the first of three discussions about how the Web is changing the media landscape. We were, admittedly, capital “S” Struggling, but we had an excuse: Like the panelists CNN Washington bureau chief, David Bohrman; YouTube head of news and politics, Steve Grove; Fortune writer Nadira Hira; and Time Washington bureau correspondent Michael Scherer we had stayed up far too late watching election returns last night.
Bohrman, who moderated the discussion, began by asking if Hillary Clinton’s appeal asking her supporters to voice their opinions on her Web site was a new phenomenon. Scherer turned the tables on Bohrman, saying, “It’s not Hillary Clinton summoning voters to the Web, it’s voters summoning Hillary Clinton to the Web.” Hira, who admitted she was on Facebook while following the television coverage, argued that candidates need to “join the conversation rather than pretend it doesn’t exist [online].”
But what did the YouTube dude have to say? Or how can the candidates transfer goodwill online to votes?
“[People] will go to the polls for their Facebook friend,” Hira said, noting Barack Obama’s 883,317 supporters.
Candidates, however, need to find a “sweet spot,” Grove argued, citing Mike Gravel’s video with Obama Girl as too over-the-top. “You don’t have to open your campaign to the world and let anarchy reign… You still need to have that message,” he said, later adding that “the Obama campaign should be commended [for its successful use of the Internet].”
Scherer agreed the Democrats as a whole had used the Web more successfully than their Red brethren. “In this cycle, the Republicans are a little league team and the Democrats are the Yankees,” he said. Bohrman, who along with Grove, ushered the YouTube debates into existence, said he expected the Republicans to bring some interesting technology to their convention in St. Paul: “[They] have a very impressive Internet plan.” We’ll be waiting.
(For the record, breakfast of Earl Grey tea, raspberries, granola and yogurt we’re so cultured! was excellent.)