Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Comparing what was said to what we read

barack.jpgOne of my frustrations with our "always on" media is that we rarely get to make up our own mind about an issue. Although we often see video or hear audio of an event when it happens live, we usually end up hearing about it through the filter of the reporters or commentators covering it. And in that context, they tend to do more "interpreting" than "reporting."

So I was interested in an event today, where US Senator Barack Obama delivered a much-anticipated speech about racism in America. The speech was widely covered on TV and the whole speech is available here on YouTube. Personally, I prefer to listen to speeches. You can download an MP3 version here.

You are probably aware of the background to the speech. In recent days, the Obama campaign has been dealing with the super-charged race issue, after his pastor's alleged Anti-American sermons were posted on the Internet. It's been a difficult time for the campaign. And there is intense interest in how Obama - already accused of lacking the experience to deal with a crisis by his opponents -- would respond.

I suspect that once again, most observers will be gauging their own reaction based on what the news media they follow has to say. But it's good to know that there are alternatives out there. And I think that once you watch a speech live, you're at least less likely to be swayed by others' opinions.

So I recommend you watch the full video, or listen to the podcast, then read about the speech. Here's a link to the coverage in the Los Angeles Times, which I thought did a very good job of summarizing the speech without editorializing. And here's a link to a Google Search for all news stories about the speech.

By tonight, there will be plenty of "opinionated" coverage out there, which will tell us what we should think about what he said. But fortunately, by then, we will be able to weigh what we read (or hear) against what the man actually said.

Our ability to "go to the source" thanks to the Internet and new technology is an important development in the media business. But it's still incumbent on us to take the time to do it.

And what did I think of the speech? It was impressive. His campaign may be suffering from the hard ball politics being played out, but the guy can deliver a speech. And I can't find anything in what he says to disagree with.

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