Socializing the Presidency: Digital Politics 2012
What are the trends in social and digital media that will help shape the 2012 presidential election? What can we learn from grassroots election efforts like Rock the Vote, now in its 20th year, contrasted with the very short history and transformational social media tactics used in recent presidential politics? Is it a natural evolution of activism, is it disruptive? If so - how? Join PBS NewsHour moderator Christina Bellantoni and panelists Mary Katharine Ham (radio host/political commentator); Maria Teresa Kumar (founding executive director, Voto Latino); Craig Newmark (founder craigslist and craigconnects); Heather Smith (president, Rock the Vote); and others to be announced, for a wide-ranging, idea-generating, big-picture discussion of trends past, present and future on how the presidential election may be shaped and transformed by social media services such as Twitter and Facebook to new location based and mobile technologies.
Christina Bellantoni joined the PBS NewsHour in January 2012. In her role as Politics Editor, she directs coverage of campaign, White House and congressional news and appears on the program for on-air analysis.
Bellantoni has spent over a decade covering national political and business news in Washington, D.C., and California. She served as Associate Politics Editor at Roll Call for more than a year before joining the NewsHour. She has appeared regularly as a political analyst on national television programs such as "Hardball," "Countdown," "On the Record w/ Greta Van Susteren," "Reliable Sources," "TopLine," "The Rachel Maddow Show" and "The Daily Rundown."
Prior to her time at Roll Call, Bellantoni was a senior reporter-blogger at Talking Points Memo's Washington bureau covering the White House and national politics. Before joining TPM, Bellantoni was a White House correspondent for The Washington Times, a post she took after covering the 2008 presidential campaign. She joined the Times in December 2003, covering state and congressional politics before moving to the national political beat for the 2008 election.
Bellantoni began her journalism career in 1998 covering business in her home state of California. She won two national journalism awards for Best Scoop in 2001 for her story in Silicon Valley Biz Ink that revealed the San Jose Sharks were up for sale.
A graduate of University of California, Berkeley, Bellantoni majored in mass communications. She led a study group for undergraduate students as an Institute of Politics Fellow at Harvard University's Kennedy School in fall 2011.
Craig Newmark is the founder of craigslist, the web-based platform that has fundamentally changed
classified advertising. Since its founding in 1995, craigslist has become one of the Internet's 10 most-visited English language sites.
In early 2011 Craig launched craigconnects, his initiative to link up everyone on the planet using the Internet to bear witness to good efforts and encourage the same behavior in others.
He'll be on a panel focusing on how people use the Net to change politics, areas may include truthiness and factchecking, and also voter protection.
Heather Smith is President of Rock the Vote, a national organization dedicated to the political engagement of young people.
Under Smith's leadership during the past two election cycles, Rock the Vote built new tools and refined best practices for the continued engagement of young voters, setting the highest voter registration records in both midterm and presidential elections in the organization's 20-year history. In 2010, Smith led Rock the Vote in its largest midterm election effort that generated more than 300,000 voter registration applications, engaged thousands of volunteers, and increased youth turnout in targeted precincts. This work built on the successful efforts of 2008, when Rock the Vote registered a record-shattering 2.2 million people.
Prior to Rock the Vote, Smith founded and directed Young Voter Strategies, a nonpartisan project in partnership with The Graduate School of Political Management at The George Washington University with support from The Pew Charitable Trusts. Young Voter Strategies provided the general public, political parties, candidates, consultants and nonprofits with data and research on the youth vote as well as best practices to effectively mobilize young people.
In 2004 Smith served as national field director for the Student PIRGs New Voters Project, the largest nonpartisan grassroots effort ever undertaken to register and mobilize young voters. Across the country, the New Voters Project, under Smith’s
direction, registered nearly 600,000 voters and conducted an intensive, multi-faceted get-out-the-vote effort to bring these newly registered voters to the polls on Election Day. Youth turnout was 11 percentage points higher than in 2000.
Prior to her work at the New Voters Project, Smith was an organizing director for Green Corps’ Field School for Environmental Organizing in Boston.
Smith received a B.A. with honors in economics and public policy from Duke University. In 2006, Smith was named one of Campaign & Elections magazine’s Rising Stars for her work with young voters. She was also named one of Esquire Magazine’s Best and Brightest of 2007.
Maria Teresa Kumar, founding executive director of Voto Latino, is a dynamic leader and advocate who has dedicated her career to empowering Latino youth and engaging them in the political process. Her strong record of accomplishment has earned her high profile recognitions, including being named as one of the 20 most notable Latinos under 40 by PODER Magazine, and numerous leadership awards including an Emmy nomination, the White House Project, Imagen Foundation and the New York legislature. In addition to being a frequent commentator on MSNBC, Maria Teresa serves as an occasional blogger for national outlets. At Voto Latino, Maria Teresa has guided the organization’s growth through the use of creative campaigns that incorporate the latest online and mobile technology, celebrity voices and youth to create positive change. Maria Teresa started her career as a legislative aide. She received her masters degree in public policy from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and a bachelors in international relations from the University of California at Davis.
Mary Katharine Ham is a radio host and political commentator who lives in Virginia. A Fox News Contributor and former morning-drive radio host, she appears weekly on "The O'Reilly Factor," and frequently contributes to other Fox News shows, such as "Red Eye with Greg Gutfeld," "America's Newsroom," and "Your World with Neil Cavuto."
She's also a contributing editor for The Weekly Standard and writes for The Daily Caller and Townhall Magazine.
A former sports and features reporter and graduate of the University of Georgia, she covered NASCAR and football before heading to D.C. She has been recognized by the Institute for Politics, Democracy & the Internet for her online video work and the North Carolina Press Association for writing. In her spare time, she reads, tweets, watches sports, runs the very occasional road race or mud run, hangs out with her husband and cat, and climbed Kilimanjaro for honeymoon fun. Because altitude sickness is sexy.