New York Times takes a tip from YouTube
I was just scanning the New York Times website, looking for something of interest to post about, when I stumbled across an embedded video in the margin of the U.S. Politics page. The video is called “Republican Debate: Analyzing the Details”. Not only is there a video transcript and an accompanying text transcript, but the debate has been conveniently divided up into clickable sections, such as: “Republicans vs. Hillary Clinton,” “Health Care,” and “Who’s More Conservative?” Also, the good people at the New York Times have included a transcript analyzer, which lists the exact number of words spoken by each participant (excluding the moderator, Rudy Guiliani tops the list with 2158, while Jim Greer and Charlie Crist each have a measly 60), and which visually breaks up the debate into a weird, bar code-esque format. Talk about user-friendly.
When YouTube first exploded into the internet scene, being able to watch a news clip or political debate through a website at one’s leisure was an exciting novelty. Later, as we learned from guest speaker James Kotecki, YouTube began to transform from a sort of political vessel into a political instigator. Now it appears as though the trend is catching on. I have no idea whether or not New York Times Online has been posting videos for a while now, but regardless–it’s fascinating to see to what extent news sources are now attempting to cater to their readers. Now, not only are you not obligated to plan your evening around a scheduled debate, but you don’t even have to watch all of it to find out what candidates said about issues that concern you.
The only negative aspect of this sort of convenience that I can see is that it could perpetuate–and probably even intensify–the closed-mindedness present in many debate watchers. When these people watch entire debates, they may choose to ignore opposing viewpoints regarding topics about which they’ve already made up their minds, but at least they’re exposed to these opposing viewpoints. If more and more people are electing to pick and choose what pieces of the debates they’d like to see, then it will become less and less likely for watchers on each side of the political spectrum to challenge what they already believe.