2020 Democrats Debates Will Disappoint. Here’s Why Podcasts Are So Much Better.

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Welcome to the presidential debate season. This evening, tomorrow, and then over 16 long months, several dozen proposed debates will occupy much of the news media’s fevered attention.

Millions of us will tune in, but we may well be disappointed.

Instead of informed, insightful coverage of complex issues and character of the candidates, the debates will reinforce saturation coverage of contests, celebrities and clashes.

Sparks may fly, but don’t expect true illumination. Reporting and analysis will be limited to what were the most catchiest soundbites, who screwed up, and which of 20 Democratic candidates actually stood out?

“After a couple of hours, viewers and journalists can usually only remember a couple of genuinely interesting, unexpected interactions,” wrote data analyst David Byler in The Washington Post. These moments “often get lost” and “fail to really change public opinion.”

Despite the political theater of the debates, don’t expect them to tell us much about the men and women who want to be President.

Voters deserve better than this.

For deeper insights, podcasts may be a much better way to learn about their proposals, intellectual rigor, and ability to articulate how they would navigate many huge challenges that will be faced in the White House.

Some campaigns get it. According to the political newspaper and website, CQ Roll Call, candidate Pete Buttigieg has already appeared on more that 30 podcasts. Additional appearances are expected.

Politico reports that at least a dozen 2020 contenders have appeared on “Pod Save America”, a popular podcast for Democratic voters and political junkies.

“One thing that’s great about podcasts is that it allows for more in-depth conversation,” says Buttigieg communications advisor Lis Smith. “You feel like you’re friends with these guys, you feel like you know them,” Smith told Roll Call about podcast hosts. “You trust their judgement, you adopt their lingo… I don’t remember feeling that way about a TV host or a radio host.”

Elizabeth Warren was interviewed for more than an hour on “The Axe Files”, the podcast hosted by former Obama senior political advisor, David Axelrod. With podcasts, “I explore people’s stories and try to convey to the listener who it is I’m talking to,” he says.

During the two-hour TV debates the candidates may say a few worthwhile things.

But because so many Presidential hopefuls will be on the stage, they will only get about nine minutes each to speak. And “a certain amount of that is going to involve answering the inane questions that the moderators inevitably pose,” writes columnist Paul Waldman.

By contrast, podcasts allow us to go much deeper, exploring who the candidates really are and what are the principles that they stand for. Despite the risks of flubbing the answer to a surprising or insightful question, serious campaigns should jump at the chance to be taken seriously by podcasters.

Richard Davies is a podcast consultant at daviescontent.com. He co-hosts “How Do We Fix It?”.

Why Does This Gucci Model Look So Miserable?

  
The Thanksgiving Day newspapers landed with a thud on the front doorstep.  Even now in this digital age when most of us get our news online, the papers are stuffed with expensive colorful circulars and retail ads. 

Most of the mass-market pitches are bright, loud and pretty straightforward, proclaiming “Black Friday Deals” and “Doorbuster” Specials.  High-end retailers push plush sweaters, eye-catching jewelry, bags and warm coats.

It’s all part of a not very subtle push for our holiday retail dollars.  But why is it that all the models for JCPenny, Macy’s and Target have nice, broad smiles on their faces, while the Gucci and Prada ladies appear to be downright miserable?

What’s their problem?  They were paid good money for their modeling gig.

I’m not a marketer, or a brand consultant. So it’s beyond me why The Dior woman is glowering from behind a fancy pair of sunglasses on page 3 of The New York Times and the Sauvage fragrance guy on the back page looks like he’s about to punch somebody out.

Huh?

Who wrote the memo that it’s hip, edgy or in-the-know to look like you’re having a crappy day?  Does dystopian angst help the elite-tailers sell more stuff?

Come on. It’s Thanksgiving. Be happy and express some gratitude. 

Most of us are blessed with love and a measure of prosperity.  Even those who rule at the fashion fortresses could offer something that’s less forbidding and cold.  

  Above:  JC Penny circular. Top: Gucci ad The New York Times 11/26.