Tag Archives: John F. Kennedy

It’s Time to Bring Political Debates into the 21st Century

In 1960, telephones were tethered to cords and only were used for conversation. The news came to us just a few times a day — when the paper landed on our doorstep and when networks aired their news broadcasts. And when John Kennedy and Richard Nixon took part in the nation’s first live televised presidential debate, they stood before cameras and answered questions.

Today we get our news 24/7 on phones and computers. Smartphones allow us to text and to email, to surf the web and to capture and share pictures and videos. Advances in technology have radically changed the way news and information is gathered and disseminated, but as Mitt Romney and Barack Obama campaign this fall, the format we employ for presidential debates is essentially the same as what it was more than 50 years ago.

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An Anniversary with Relevance for Today

Fifty years ago today, for the first time in American history, a presidential press conference was televised live. This marked the first time that the American public could hear exactly – and in full – a President’s responses to questions from the White House press corps. Previously, citizens had to rely on news reports, which by their nature, only contained portions of a President’s remarks.

First Live Televised Presidential Press Conference

First Live Televised Presidential Press Conference

We are experiencing a similar development today. Thanks to the Internet, Presidents and other elected officials now have the ability to send news and information directly to the public via websites, social networks, and email. This gives them the opportunity to bypass the scrutiny of journalists.

We Learned the Wrong Lesson from the JFK-Nixon Debates

With summer officially behind us, the fall campaign season is shifting into high gear. Over the next few weeks, in addition to the usual flurry of political ads, rallies and newspaper stories, we also will have an opportunity to see candidates square off against their opponents in campaign debates.

But how much do debates really tell us about how well a candidate will perform in office? Continue reading

As Dollars Dwindle, Opportunity Knocks for NJ and Higher Ed

Rutgers University is trying something new this weekend. It’s called Rutgers Day and it takes place Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the school’s Busch, College Avenue and Cook/Douglass campuses.

Rutgers Day is designed to showcase New Jersey’s state university to the people of the Garden State. “Think of it as a great, big one-day show-and-tell for New Jersey, a celebration of our great state and a great university,” the school says on its Rutgers Day website.

Although the date for Rutgers Day was selected several months ago, the timing of the event could not be more fortuitous, given the current economic crisis. The downturn in the economy is forcing everyone to tighten their belts, including state governments and institutions of higher learning. Continue reading