(We’re heading west for Thanksgiving, and this will be my last post until Monday.)
I have minuscule impact on the news media, but I do have interesting experiences with journalists.
For example, yesterday at 7 am, I walked the halls of XM Radio in Northeast Washington, DC. XM Radio produces 170 separate channels of audio programming, mostly for specialized audiences. I was on my way to be interviewed for “POTUS ’08,” a channel that talks about nothing but the presidential campaign, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I should note that the questions turned out to be very good; they went far beyond the usual horse-race analysis. But what struck me were all the studios for the other radio channels, visible through glass windows along the groovy curving halls as I walked to my interview. Baseball jerseys and bats covered the walls of one studio, where three guys were talking into mikes. Another studio looked like a business suite with leather furniture and copies of the Wall Street Journal. It all seemed like a Monte Python skit. I expected to see the “Yo-Yo Channel” around the next corner, with people in beanies keeping their Imperials in motion, 24/7.
Later in the same day, a crew came to interview me for a documentary about the future of democracy (not about my book of that name; about the actual future of our actual democracy). The crew is also filming the interview process to create a video blog about making the documentary. That explained why there were two cameras, one filming the other one. Again, I should note that the interview questions were very thoughtful.
Finally, not long ago, a foreign TV crew came to interview me about KidsVoting USA. This is a fine program that involves discussing a campaign in school and then conducting a mock election. A rigorous study has found that participants’ parents actually vote at higher rates, because the program stimulates discussion of politics around the dinner table. The TV crew had gone to Duluth, Minnesota (i.e., the heartland) to film a KidsVoting class and some dinner-table conversations. After the interview, the reporter told me privately that she was so moved by what she saw in Duluth that she was thinking of quitting her job to start KidsVoting in her home country. She wanted my advice about fundraising.