Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Putting the public in public radio on election night

Next Tuesday, please join me in a very cool experiment in election night coverage. I will be one of several bloggers who will be liveblogging next Tuesday's "Policy and a Pint" event, an ongoing series co-sponsored by Minnesota Public Radio's 89.3 The Current and The Citizens League. The goal of PAAP is to provide an informal setting for the public (i.e., the rabble) to come and discuss important policy issues with community leaders and thinkers (i.e., elites). On Election Night, the rabble with laptops, i.e., bloggers, will join the fray:
Tom Crann from MPR's All Things Considered and Steve Seel from The Current join with bloggers, pundits, campaigners and citizens from around the community to check in on the election returns, challenge one another to election trivia, enjoy live entertainment and talk about the impact of the election and Minnesota's political scene. (Source: MPR)
Julia Schrenkler, MPR Interactive Producer (pretty cool, her actual title), gets it. She gets that she is in the news and information business, not only the radio business. She (along with MPR) is passionate about the whole idea of using technology to give the public a voice, whether it's blogs or even, in the case of next Tuesday, the considerable resources of MPR. (For more, see "Public Insight Journalism.")

I found out this morning just how considerable those resources are. I took some time off work so that I could get a walk-through of the event. Schrenkler gave me a look at our venue, the UBS Forum, a state-of-the-art, big open room that was made for big groups of people to hear speeches and discuss issues. Think Speakers' Corner in London's Hyde Park meets the starship Enterprise. The room is totally wired for Internet (WiFi) and broadcast-quality audio and video. Landline phones, restrooms, and a kitchen are right around the corner. Food and drink (a limited amount, according to MPR publicity) will flow. And of course the room will be wallpapered with video feeds from television news and even occasionally our blogs. The event will be webcast by MPR, with periodic cut-ins on The Current. I will post some photos and even shoot some video for a subsequent story about the event.

We're all making this up as we go, that's what makes it truly exciting.

But it's the people there who will make it interesting from a political standpoint. In addition to the blogs I mentioned in an earlier post, Michael Brodkorb of Minnesota Democrats Exposed will join us in the "blog pit." Please tune in on Tuesday.

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