Tuesday, March 13, 2007

New Pittsburgh Politics Online

A snapshot of the "Luke for Mayor" site

ayor Luke Ravenstahl's campaign website has come alive. It's just one of three fronts that Ravenstahl supporters have engaged online. In addition to the campaign website, there are now:

YouTube postings of Ravenstahl campaign ads,

a blog by Matt H, one of the mayor's more vocal online supporters.

Jeremy Boren of the Trib did a story about YouTube video and the mayor's race, which inspired me to revisit the topic here.

During my scanning of local blogs, I came across some posts by a college student who blogs under the name Agent Ska. She identifies herself as the one who shot video of Mayor Luke Ravenstahl at local democratic committee meetings and posted it on YouTube under the name PittsburghDemocracy.

It was obvious in her posts here and here that she was wrestling with the media attention her YouTube video had drawn, and whether it was meant to suggest she had edited the video in a way that had distorted its meaning. She makes it clear in her blog that she is an active Peduto supporter; Jeremy Boren writes that "video clips submitted by the user PittsburghDemocracy try to catch Ravenstahl saying something controversial or embarrassing". While that clearly is the case--and while anti-Ravenstahl bloggers have highlighted the video--the clip itself appears unaltered.

Since Agent Ska is a student and not used to the media spotlight, I recently sent her the following e-mail to answer the questions she had been posting about our coverage.

Dear Agent Ska,

Please don't feel that our doing a story about your YouTube video was meant to suggest that you did anything to alter your video's content. Your clip from the committee meeting started with the question from the audience and continued with the mayor's answer for a minute-and-a-half. That's longer than many TV news reports. I didn't see any editing in your clip that would suggest "inaccuracies"; it was raw video.

The starting point of our WTAE story was that the mayor made the remark, it was now on the 'net, and people were talking about it. It was generating comments on local blogs. My question to the mayor was not about how your video was cut, it was a question about what his "boss" remark meant; he described as a being a joke.

It was the mayor--not me--who said "If the clip would have continued, you would have seen Dan was the next to speak". In my story, we followed your clip with our photographer's video because it offered a different camera angle. Our photographer was shooting wide during the mayor's comment, and was in a position to zoom in to Onorato for his reaction. Your original YouTube clip itself did include the mayor's complete answer, in which he said that he's pressing for continued bus service in city neighborhoods.

The mayor told me that he hadn't seen your YouTube clip himself; I think his comments were in response to what people had been saying about their interpretation of the significance of the clip.

I know from reading your posts that you're politically active, but I haven't seen anything in your raw video clip to suggest it was altered in any way. It appears to be the entire exchange, from start-of-question to end-of-answer.

Your taking the time to go out, gather, sort through, and upload all of your video reminds me of my college and early radio days of working with audio-- an unpaid labor of love. I think you deserve credit for working hard at it and caring about what you do. The fact that you went out of your way to dig up the Onorato video and post that on YouTube too is testimony to that.

I'm sending you this as an e-mail, but if you'd like, I'll post it on my blog. Let me know.

Best Wishes,

Bob Mayo


Bram R. said...

That is an excellent answer for Agent Ska. She is doing us a mitzvah, no matter how you parse it.

We would add a 4th prong to the Ravenstahl web offensive: much better and more frequent blog commenting. Since its all happening at once, we can only assume some of that contractor money is getting spent on Internet political consultants, and not bad ones, either.

Busman: When, and under what circumstances, do you think WTAE would turn up the pressure on debates?

Matt H said...

Thanks for the plug.

Mark Rauterkus said...

I blog about this too: