Among traditional broadcasters, ABC News may have won the ratings race, but it was the rise and influence of alternative outlets on the Web that really impacted the 2006 elections.
It could be argued that a single incident, spread through YouTube, had a significant influence on the incumbent Virginia Senator George Allen’s loss to Democrat Jim Webb. Allen’s “macaca” faux pas was spread virally through YouTube.
After the controversial comment — interpreted as a racial slur — transcended the Web to make national headlines, Allen’s campaign went into a tailspin, finally losing by only a few thousand votes.
Last Tuesday, coverage of the elections throughout the nation was widely reported by thousands of bloggers.
New in 2006, was the combined use of blogs and videos, usually to document the stories, posted to popular video Web sites.
The New York Times cited www.redstate.com, the conservative blog, which reported problems with election workers and certain types of electronic voting machines in Pennsylvania. Erick Erickson, RedState’s chief blogger, included a report of poll watcher intimidation in Philadelphia, along with a link to a video on the Web site YouTube that appeared to show a certified poll observer (armed with a video camera) being blocked from a polling station.
The traditional television news media also used the Internet to support their live coverage. Executives at several networks said they had added producers, writers and others to their Web sites, and in some instances had even temporarily diverted staff from the broadcast networks.