Is Sunlight Foundation’s Health Care Summit Coverage a Gamechanger?

While many people were yawning their way through the news networks’ coverage of the White House’s Health Care Summit, a government transparency advocacy group turned the event on its head and used social media and streaming technology to possibly become the next C-SPAN, PolitiFact or Nate Silver’s

Relying on “data jamming” (a kissing cousin of “culture jamming”), the D.C.-based  Sunlight Foundation gave readers and viewers an endless supply of information–from donor data for members of Congress  to information on health care expenditures–by using live-streaming video, live-blogging, Twitter-feeds, and seven hours of endless data and information to thousands of people who participated on the live event.

“One of my favorite comments was that our approach was a ’smackdown to CNN,’ ” Sunlight’s Jake Brewer told Mediaite. Brewer, who has blogged about the experiment including a a great “how we did it,” said the goal of the effort was to “let the data do the talking” and provide an alternative to the talking heads on the cable news shows or even the talking politicians on C-SPAN.

Susannah Fox, of the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project was tweeting about the project days after the summit, speculating on what impact the Sunlight Foundation would have on coverage of medical conferences.

“Sunlight’s coverage was one of those moments where it all came together,” Fox told Mediaite. She is an associate director at Pew Internet, focusing on the intersection of  health care and technology. “Pew had just released a report on millennials, and there was a perfect example of the remix culture in action with raw data and social media.”

Like more and more people, Fox says she follows events and news stories through Twitter and other social media.  Sunlight’s ability to harness that approach with live-video and data is what made the coverage significant.

During the seven hour summit, people who went to Sunlight Live could watch the summit via a live-video feed embedded into Sunlight’s site.  When a Congressman would speak, a list of that member’s top political contributors, previously sponsored legislation, or even fundraising events attended would be displayed on the screen. When a piece of research was mentioned, Sunlight would immediately provide a link or some sort of data illustration.

The coverage became an instant Twitter and blog sensation. According to the foundation, 1,364 tweets were sent out linking to the coverage, reaching an estimated 2.5 million people  based on the number of followers those tweeters have. Jason Linkins at Huffington Post said “anyone following the summit on their website was treated to a rather innovative ‘Contextual Content and Data Stream’ that presented a side-by-side take on the extent to which the various players in the summit have been bought and paid for.”

During the summit, the coverage got linked by Andrew Sullivan, ABC’s Jake Tapper, Time magazine, the New York Times, The Nation ProPublica, and Twitter all-stars like Tim O’Reilly.

Brewer, who heads Sunlight’s engagement efforts and has a background in organizing and as a “social entrepeneur,” said that while the efforts got a lot of social media and press attention, there were a lot of “real people” outside the wonkosphere paying attention.  His favorite stat from the analytics showed that some 9,800 people participated in the live blog and that half of the people who spent time on the coverage were actively engaged–blogging, commenting, or scrolling–while they were on the site.

“The White House making the video embeddable was what really made this possible,” Brewer told Mediaite. “This is an idea that transparency advocates pushed for in the Open Government directive and something that is a real step forward in terms of transparency.”

If the White House and other parts of government make live video embeddable–as opposed to requiring viewers to go to another website–Brewer predicted Sunlight would do other efforts given the success of the summit.  He said he’d like to see contributors participate in the research and data collection, “taking crowdsourcing to a whole new level,” and also find more ways to engage viewers in finding out more about how government works and operates.

Pew’s Fox suggested that Sunlight was on to something important, providing a way of consuming the news that also gets people involved in the news.

“There is a renewed interest in raw material, especially if it can be remixed into a compelling and interesting portrait of an event or ongoing conversation,” Fox said.

What makes Sunlight’s project important–even gamechanging–is the combination of social media, interactive data, and a live event.  The approach allows almost instantaneous background information for the reader to begin evaluating the claims being made by, in this case, elected officials.  There’s no reason to wait for Paul Begala or Liz Cheney to explain it to you, the information is right there while the official is talking.

Breaking Out the Wite-Out

The new CJR survey on the practices of magazine Web sites (read it here!) contains lots of interesting information, but one of the most striking nuggets relates to online correction policies. According to the survey, forty-six percent of the magazines at which a print editor is in charge of online content reported that “major errors” are corrected with no...

Apple Slaps Android-Maker HTC With Patent Infringement Suit

Apple Giant Logo

More legal wrangles for Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) over patents as the smartphone market continues to heat up. The iPhone maker is suing rival handset maker HTC, which makes devices using both Android and Windows platforms, for infringing on 20 Apple patents related to the device user interface, underlying architecture and hardware.

Apple did not offer any other specifics about how HTC may have been using its patented technology. In a statement, Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO, said, “We think competition is healthy, but competitors should create their own original technology, not steal ours.” The case was filed concurrently with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) and in U.S. District Court in Delaware. Release

This is not Apple’s first visit to the ITC. Apple and Nokia have each filed cases against each other for patent infringements over the last couple of months. These cases are still pending.

This most recent suit against HTC doesn’t come as much of a surprise. HTC was the first phone maker to develop a device using Android, and it has been gradually ramping up its product line with other Android devices, including Google’s Nexus One launched in January.

Then last month, during the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, HTC launched its newest device, the Legend, to much fanfare. With its sleek aluminum design and most up-to-date version of HTC’s Sense user interface, some are hailing it the biggest device since…the iPhone. This suit confirms that HTC may well be a competitor to be reckoned with.


Anthony Weiner Calls ‘Fox & Friends’ On Health Care ‘Lies’ (VIDEO)

Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) took the hosts of "Fox & Friends" to task on their show Tuesday morning, criticizing the ongoing Fox campaign to "lie" and spread "disinformation" about health care reform.

After co-host Steve Doocy asked why Democrats whose districts oppose health reform should vote for it, Weiner turned the question back on the shocked-jocks:

Anthony Weiner: We should be honest about something here: On programs like this, there's been an enormous amount of disinformation about what's in the bill. An enormous amount.

Brian Kilmeade: Well, that's according to you. (pause) I mean, that's what you think is --

AW: Look, I -- I think there has been an orchestrated effort in a lot of quarters to lie about the bill. We went through --

Steve Doocy: What are we -- what are we lying about?

AW: Well, don't take it -- don't personalize it, programs like -- I said programs like yours.

BK: Don't be so defensive, Steve!

AW: Let me ask you something.

BK: "Like" yours!

AW: Let me ask you something.

SD: I can get this guy in a headlock!

AW: Let me ask you something. Did anyone talk about "death panels" on this show in the last six months. Of course. Okay, that was a lie. That was a lie. (crosstalk) The only -- the point that I'm making here, gentlemen, is that you can't simply put your finger up in the air and say, "What do people want?" For one thing, when people ask about "the bill" -- there hasn't even been "a bill" until now.


John King Begins Twitter Scavenger Hunt Ahead Of Much-Anticipated CNN Show

John King’s new CNN show at 7pmET will launch sometime…soon, and he and CNN have found a creative way to make the announcement of when that will be and what it will be called – Twitter clues.

That’s right, stay tuned to Twitter for the details about the delayed launch of one of the most important CNN products in the last couple years.

King announced the Da Vince Code-like scavenger hunt last night:

Gearing up for the new 7p show! want the name and launch date? will tweet clues rest of the week _ at 7 am/pm (eastern). Check back!

And here’s your first, mysterious clue:

Good morning. First clue: new show name tied to something special we share. More re name and launch @7a & 7pE thru final clue fri! #cnn.

Hmm, this doesn’t bode well for my choice, State Of The Magic Wall.

Look, it seems like a silly idea, but it certainly is creative – especially for the most traditional of cable news outlets. And I have to admit I’ll be checking out King’s tweets more often and more specifically now. But the launch has already been the subject of some questions. It was originally slated for ‘early 2010′, and the CNN release about Candy Crowley taking over State of the Union said it would launch in February.

And for the CNN haters who think the headline is an exaggeration, keep in mind the 7pmET slot is almost prime time, and by replacing CNN mainstay Lou Dobbs, King’s show will garner extra attention. And with the state of CNN’s prime time ratings (reaching historic lows), they need a hit. Because of the added pressure, King’s show will either be a huge success by improving the 7pmET ratings from when Dobbs was the host as well as helping lead into Campbell Brown’s 8pmET show or it won’t boost ratings and be viewed as, well, a failure.

It’s pressure that’s frankly unfair to King, but CNN needs a winner when the moon comes out, and right now their hopes lie with King. So check out Twitter to find out when we’ll get to see the plan in action.

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Delacorte Lecture with Chris Dixon

On February 17, 2010, New York art director Chris Dixon delivered a Delacorte Lecture at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Video of the lecture is embedded below, and can also be accessed here. Video courtesy Alan Haburchak.