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I. Philadelphia: The Political Convention, Rewired

The online public is increasing in both numbers and attention to news and political information. The Nielsen Company's www.netratings.com puts the U.S. online population at 136.9 million. The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press finds an increase in the audience for political news on the Internet.1 A July 2000 Yankelovich poll reports that 65% of the electorate says it will go online to learn about candidates and issues by election day. Given an increasing audience and lots of venture capital, a number of commercial companies were recently formed to provide political content on the Internet. These new political dot-coms are competing with non-profit and traditional media, who have also expanded their online news divisions. At the same time, online campaigning is expanding exponentially. More Congressional candidates established Web sites by July 2000 than for the entire 1998 campaign.

The Internet and politics community has seized the opportunity provided by the 2000 national party conventions to showcase online journalism. Political parties, interest groups, activists and the news media established an Internet beachhead at the Republican convention in Philadelphia. They laid over 6600 miles of fiber optic cable at the convention complex; and connected 2000 ISDN lines and 500 DSL lines, 125 DS-1 and 100 DC-3 circuits, for a capacity of 70,200 lines for data and voice streaming.2

The first online convention failed to live up to the hype that preceded it. This is not so surprising, because the convention was not an exciting news event. Moreover, technical difficulties plagued convention innovation, the online audience paid only modest attention, and the Republican Party made little effort to incorporate the Internet in their media strategy.

The First Union Center: The Bush Campaign Places the Web Offstage >>


1. Pew Research Center, "Internet Sapping Broadcast News Audience," June 11, 2000.
2. Foxnews.com (background section on the conventions)


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