ERIC Number: ED365289
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1993-Oct
Reference Count: N/A
Democratic Designs for Electronic Town Meetings.
Abramson, Jeffrey B.
The 1992 presidential campaign put the idea of the electronic town meeting firmly on the political scene, and each of the presidential debates during that campaign experimented with the town meeting format. This paper reviews the tradition of town meeting democracy in the United States and proposes ways to carry that tradition on with the help of modern electronic media. The designs and safeguards proposed were derived through consultation with a group of political leaders, scholars, and industry representatives who convened to discuss a draft paper on the subject prepared by the same author. Problems that have been recognized with regard to the electronic town meeting are those of oversimplification, empowerment, push button democracy (home polling schemes), issues of equality and manipulation, and how to select a representative sample. Practical issues that must be addressed include the following: (1) venue; (2) issue for discussion; (3) agenda setting/editorial control; (4) audience and participant selection and composition; (5) choice of interactive technology; and (6) eliminating multiple voting from the home. Scenarios are presented for an electronic town meeting. Seven appendixes include a list of town meetings held, discussions of two of the sample scenarios, and other supplemental information about the meeting process. (SLD)
Descriptors: Agenda Setting, Audience Response, Democracy, Elections, Interactive Video, Mass Media Effects, Mass Media Role, Media Research, Political Campaigns, Political Candidates, Presidential Campaigns (United States), Public Opinion, Sampling, Technological Advancement, Telecommunications, Television
Aspen Institute, Communications and Society Program, 1755 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W., Suite 501, Washington, DC 20036.
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: John and Mary R. Markle Foundation, New York, NY.
Authoring Institution: Aspen Inst., Queenstown, MD.
Identifiers: Electronic Town Meetings
Note: Paper prepared for a Conference on Electronic Town Meetings (Queenstown, MD, October 26-28, 1992). A product of Communications and Society Program.