What If You Threw a Cyberdebate and Nobody Came?

Tracking politics as it's practiced on the Web.
Sept. 23 2000 12:00 AM

What If You Threw a Cyberdebate and Nobody Came?

34000_34651_islogo_130x20
82000_82938_onpol_small

Slate, the Industry Standard, and washingtonpost.com join forces to examine the effect of the Internet on Campaign 2000. 

(Continued from Page 1)

McCurry and cyberdebate co-director Doug Bailey, a founder and former publisher of the Hotline, a political newsletter, say it's not surprising that the candidates are still undecided given the frenzied pace of politics. They remain confident, however, that the candidates ultimately will realize that the benefits of participating are too great to pass up.

Advertisement

"It is an opportunity to get your message out the way you want to in an unedited way," says Bailey, a former Republican political consultant.

And not to be downplayed is the huge potential reach of that message. Combined, the 17 participating Web sites, which include rival sites such as Washingtonpost.com, NYTimes.com, Yahoo!, and Excite@Home, as well as more narrowly targeted sites such as NetNoir and Oxygen Media, reach 85 percent of the U.S. Internet audience, Markle estimates. In July, at least 49 million people visited the sites participating in the cyberdebate, according to Media Metrix.

The participating sites were found by researchers to be the most visited for political information during the major party conventions this summer. They are also the sites undecided voters are most likely to frequent, unlike true political junkies, who typically go directly to the campaign Web sites.

The long list of participating Web sites highlights the public-service element of the cyberdebate. "One of the things that I hope comes out of this is an example of how the Internet can play a meaningful role in our political process," says Jonah Seiger, co-founder and chief strategist of Mindshare Internet campaigns, which is handling the technological end of the cyberdebate.

"If it works as advertised, I think it could end up giving our readers a little bit more insight into the thinking of the candidates," adds Spitzer of USAToday.com. "If it works as advertised, it could be more interesting to see the campaigns questioning each other, rather than dealing straight to the press all the time."

But given the campaigns' lukewarm reaction to date, Spitzer doubts the cyberdebate will entirely fulfill its promise. He predicts, "I think they're going to be very, very conservative."

TODAY IN SLATE

Foreigners

More Than Scottish Pride

Scotland’s referendum isn’t about nationalism. It’s about a system that failed, and a new generation looking to take a chance on itself. 

What Charles Barkley Gets Wrong About Corporal Punishment and Black Culture

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

Three Talented Actresses in Three Terrible New Shows

Why Do Some People See the Virgin Mary in Grilled Cheese?

The science that explains the human need to find meaning in coincidences.

Jurisprudence

Happy Constitution Day!

Too bad it’s almost certainly unconstitutional.

Is It Worth Paying Full Price for the iPhone 6 to Keep Your Unlimited Data Plan? We Crunch the Numbers.

What to Do if You Literally Get a Bug in Your Ear

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 16 2014 7:03 PM Kansas Secretary of State Loses Battle to Protect Senator From Tough Race
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 16 2014 2:35 PM Germany’s Nationwide Ban on Uber Lasted All of Two Weeks
  Life
The Vault
Sept. 16 2014 12:15 PM “Human Life Is Frightfully Cheap”: A 1900 Petition to Make Lynching a Federal Offense
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus Video
Sept. 16 2014 2:06 PM A Farewell From Emily Bazelon The former senior editor talks about her very first Slate pitch and says goodbye to the magazine.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 16 2014 8:43 PM This 17-Minute Tribute to David Fincher Is the Perfect Preparation for Gone Girl
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 16 2014 6:40 PM This iPhone 6 Feature Will Change Weather Forecasting
  Health & Science
Science
Sept. 16 2014 1:39 PM The Case of the Missing Cerebellum How did a Chinese woman live 24 years missing part of her brain?
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 8:41 PM You’re Cut, Adrian Peterson Why fantasy football owners should release the Minnesota Vikings star.