All comments posted on this blog do not reflect the opinions of any organization that I am affiliated with. These are my personal perspectives only.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Is CNN manipulating the YouTube Presidential debate?

Should CNN by using editorial control in selecting YouTube questions for the US Presidential debate? That's the topic in a recent Wired article titled, CNN-YouTube Debate Producer Doubts the Wisdom of the Crowd.

Wired provides arguments on both sides of the debate. I suspect most 2.0 enthusiasts will disagree with me on this, but I think CNN should have some editorial control. Surowiecki's "wisdom of crowds" is a powerful concept, BUT it only works when the crowd is aligned on the objective. Unfortunately, people have other agendas and motivations then those that the may have posed the initial question. This is an important lesson learned from swarm theory.

Applied to the CNN debate, CNN may be looking for the most thought-provoking intellectually stimulating questions but the respondents may have a different agenda. They may be looking for the most entertaining and humorous questions. Unfortunately, these 2 different objectives may not align. The Wired article quotes the CNN SVP David Bohrman (pictured here with political director Sam Feist) stating that the previous debates most viewed questions were 1) Whether Arnold Schwarzenegger was a cyborg sent to save the planet Earth? and 2) Will you a convene a national meeting on UFOs?

There are several examples of "hijacking" including the piece I wrote about on the CBC's Great Canadian Wish, that seem to lend it's support to CNN.

The challenge though becomes how much editorial control should CNN have? According to the Huffington Post's Marty Kaplan, CNN is going beyond filtering the "jokes" and is stacking the debate by purposefully rejecting several 'authentic' videos. CNN defends themselves by stating that these questions were "planted" and "manipulated" and don't really represent what the voting population really want to see.

Personally, I don't see a "perfect" process that would properly seek out the wisdom of crowds via social media to help the rest of the nation make the best decisions.

How would you propose CNN handle this?

Or do you think social media isn't appropriate at all?

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