Something that’s irked me for a while: The New York Times’ “Interactive Features.” This is a label they apply, most recently in the case of the debates, to a movie clip where you get to watch a series of photos while listening to one of their folks talk about it. It’s “interactive” insofar as you, the actor, get to pause the movie or change the volume and, sometimes, at the end of the movie you get to choose among other moviews to watch. And you can choose whether to skip the ad at the beginning or not. And, I guess, in that you can walk away at any time. So it’s more interactive than a forced re-education chamber and less interactive than, well, anything which actually involves interaction. No, seriously. Check it out for yourself.

The Times, unfortunately, isn’t alone in this. Instead, every media institution seems to be going for “interactive features” which are in fact fully unidirectional, top-down encounters. It’s symptomatic of a political culture which has, over the course of the past few decades, steadily closed off the access of regular Americans to the political process.

And Todd Purdum doesn’t have much interesting to say about the debates anyway.


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