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"Big Tent" Democracy: YouTube, Google, Celebrity and Citizen Journalism Enter The Spotlight

August 28, 2008

Denver, CO - Just a couple of blocks from the Pepsi Center in downtown Denver, another kind of convention is taking place under a "Big Tent," literally and figuratively.

The Alliance for Sustainable Colorado is a cosponsor of the tent. Aaron Nelson of the group explains that backers - such as Google, YouTube, and fellow sponsor ProgressNowAction - want to promote voter engagement, by catering to those who work within the New Media landscape.

"Some of the largest political blogs have over eight million unique visitors every single month. We're in an on-demand world these days; people like to go online, point and click. So, the 'New Media' is being used more and more as the Internet is being used more and more."

The 8,000-square-foot Big Tent houses about 500 bloggers, and dozens of panel discussions are taking place there. Under the "big" lights, voting rights, climate change, and healthcare are among the hot topics.

Noted Web site "Daily Kos" (www.dailykos.com) is another cosponsor. Executive Editor Susan Gardner feels blogs are an important part of the convention coverage.

"The blogs offer a way for us to no longer be consumers, but to be creators of our democracy, as well."

The Big Tent is also attracting its share of celebrities. Actress Daryl Hannah says she'll be video-blogging from the site.

"It's a great way to share information - and I think when people have information, they make wise decisions."

Another award-winning Web site is hosting a national dialogue during the convention. Every day, "Votelink.com" (www.Votelink.com), poses key questions and prompts readers to make choices about them. For example, had Votelink respondents been "in charge" of federal policymaking this week, the monthly $12 billion the United States now directs toward war efforts abroad would be going instead to pay down the national debt.

Marisa Helms/Chris Thomas, Public News Service - ID