Yesterday was the House Commerce Committee "mark up" of the COPE bill. On an email listserv for media reform organizations and wonks, there was some blow-by-blow commentary on the amendments, discussion, and votes.
That gave me flashbacks to the Indymedia style of covering large protests, like the 2004 Republican National Convention, with minute-by-minute updates on the website, streaming radio, daily television broadcasts, text message alerts, chat rooms, and constant phone calls.
It made me wonder about the potential impact of covering a markup session in that style. You could create some intense interest in the process. You could even put out moment-to-moment action alerts, generating phone calls and emails on amendments and statements as they're made: debunking in real time. The bloggers (who, me?) would love it, of course.
That kind of coverage isn't hard to do (and it's a lot more enjoyable when your friends aren't getting arrested or beat up by police). Tom from Media Bridges and ACM pointed out that pretty much every committee meeting these days is webcast using Realplayer, so that helps.
All you need is a little preparation, some good commentators with access to serious research, and a participation-based website with some clever bells and whistles. Personally, I'd like to see a "boo" button that people can click when someone says or does something shitty.
(I emailed this idea to that list and have been getting positive responses so maybe it will happen. Stay tuned.)
When I shared this idea with Kat Aaron, she pointed out something so brilliant and obvious: that this could be a model for covering other markups, like welfare, immigration, health care… Is this what democracy looks like? Not quite, but it's a step up from what we have now.