New RNC Site Launches

A new Web site from the Republican National Convention offers gavel to gavel video coverage, a “W blog” and even a sweepstakes to capture Americans’ attention during the GOP’s convention week, which starts today in New York.

The site’s video offerings are extensive. Visitors can watch live Web casts that will cover the convention in its entirety and check out Web-only video of convention events. Two dedicated Web cams offer continuous streaming of the main stage and a close-up view of the podium. Additionally, the RNC has scheduled online “video chats” with conference participants.

The RNC has also set up a “W blog” to follow President Bush’s activities leading up to his appearance on the convention stage in New York. Early entries mention campaign stops in Ohio and West Virginia, and include a note about Dick Cheney’s speech this weekend during a rally on Ellis Island. The page does not fit the traditional definition of a blog, containing as it does unsigned comments written in the third person. It could be more accurately described as a campaign notebook, intended to build anticipation for the moment Bush steps onstage to accept his party’s re-nomination.

The RNC’s new Web presence also contains a Spanish language site that’s prominently linked to from the main page, a testament to the growing influence of Hispanic voters in U.S. politics. Bush has said he intends to carry California, a state with a large Latino population that traditionally votes Democratic.

Bill Harris, CEO of the 2004 RNC, equated the Web site with increased voter involvement and turnout. “A greater sense of ownership will encourage them to take part in the nation’s political process,” he said.

Other features on the site include photo-of-the-day voting and a contest to win an NBA game ball. People who sign up to receive email updates from the RNC are eligible to win the ball, which is signed by program participants.

Protesters in New York this week are also using the Internet to coordinate their activities around the convention. Numerous Web sites have been set up to help demonstrators plan their schedules. These include The People’s Guide to the RNC, a clearinghouse of anti-Bush and GOP events. Protesters have also begun using SMS to quickly organize and congregate in semi-legal fashion, a phenomenon sometimes known as flash mobbing. One service that has been set up to facilitate such activities is called TxtMob.

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