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Impact - A Blog by INM

YouTube Fuels Debate

July 24, 2007 by Tanya McGinnity

When US democratic leadership hopefuls took to the podiums last week in Charleston, South Carolina for their televised debate of the campaign, they didn’t just face off against pre-formatted press questions and a local audience. Instead they opened themselves up to questions from citizens across the globe. Pretty much anyone with a web camera and a question to ask was able to participate in the debate.

For the first time in history thousands of Americans recorded and uploaded their questions to YouTube for the two-hour debate on Monday evening. CNN editors chose about 25 questions from more than 2,000 YouTube submissions.

With the debate complete, it’s been touted by the media as a groundbreaking event and the first debate of its kind to enlist the Web as a tool to open politics up to the public. But its significance goes beyond just opening up the political process.

This broad use of YouTube really legitimizes it as a valid communications vehicle. Sure, YouTube’s been used in the past for many commercial purposes, including as a way to stealth market new products, and build brand awareness and affinity. However, this extends YouTube’s direct exposure to reach the entire US population.

With this event, YouTube, and the concept of user generated content as a whole has gone from a novel concept that a few businesses really grasped the impact of to a necessary channel to explore.

At the very least, it was fun to see Anderson Cooper trying to explain the concept of "user generated content".