MANCHESTER, N.H. -- Key political operatives, bloggers, academics and media figures from New Hampshire gathered on Dec. 6 to debate how the Internet is affecting New Hampshire's presidential primary. (READ WHAT PARTICIPANTS SAID) / (LISTEN TO AUDIO) /
(STREAM VIDEO) / (VIEW PHOTOS)) / (WHO ATTENDED) / (UNPRESS HOMEPAGE)
"The Internet is an emerging mass medium -- a press without a press," says Bill Densmore, director of the New England News Forum, a sponsor of the Dec. 6 event at Southern New Hampshire University. "How are candidate websites, blogs, mashups, meetups, social networks, citizen reporters and online fundraising affecting political dialog?"
"The Unpress: New Gatekeepers of the New Hampshire Primary," was a free event open to the public from 7 p.m.-8:30 p.m. in SNHU's Walker Auditorium in Robert Frost Hall. Featured discussion leaders -- among bloggers, journalists, citizens and campaign offiicials -- were James Pindell, New Hampshire political corresponent and blogger for The Boston Globe/Bos
Featured discussion leaders -- among bloggers, journalists, citizens and campaign offiicials -- were James Pindell, New Hampshire political corresponent and blogger for The Boston Globe/Bos
"We invited New Hampshire's bloggers, reporters, citizens and campaign officials -- anyone who is covering and shaping the primary in ways which weren't possible a decade ago -- to join the forum," says Bill Densmore, director of the New England News Forum. "This was a town meeting about new forms of civic engagement."
The format involved a flexible line between audience and participants. The hall was be openly seeded with pre-identified commentators among bloggers, mainstream media, campaign officials and the public. There will also be time for questions from other attendees.
Participants considered informally three propositions:
1) As the gatekeeper role of the traditional press falls away, our democracy is more hopeful, more transparent and more accountable. Yes, or no?
2) Candidates now spend more time working the grassroots, because they need to influence the web conversation as well as the main-stream media. The result: Clearer issues, more discussion, more diversity. Yes, or no?
3) The Internet cannot alone close the loop on political engagement because it lacks the capacity to project a handshake, it does not replace face-to-face campaigning, and raises difficult questions about trust and conflict-of-interest. Yes, or no?
"The Unpress: The New Gatekeepers of the New Hampshire Primary," was the first event in New Hampshire organized by the New England News Forum. The forum, based at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, received a two-year grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation last year to experiment with new forms of citizen-media accountability and dialog.
"Coverage of the New Hampshire primary is just one example of the impact of new media forms on the relationship between traditional media and the public," says Densmore. "The forum is working to expand and help shape this relationship to foster participatory democracy and community."
Besides the two universities, other principal sponsors of "The Unpress" included the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, Concord Monitor Online, the Nackey S. Loeb School of Communication and Stonyfield Farm Inc.
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Bill Densmore, Executive Director
The New England News Forum
108 Bartlett Hall University of Massachusetts
Amherst MA 01003 413-577-4370 / CELL: 413-458-8001
D. Arnie Arnesen
Executive Producer and Host
252 Main Street #5
Hopkinton, NH 03229
Kristen D. Nevious, Ph.D., Director
Phyllis S. Zrzavy, Ph. D., Professor
Marlin Fitzwater Center for Communication
20 College Road / P.O. Box 60
Rindge NH 03461-0060
Dr. Karen Erickson
Dean, School of Liberal Arts
Southern New Hampshire University
2500 N. River Road
Manchester, NH 03106