Online Reaction to Obama Speech Instant, Intense

It didn't take long for News & Notes listeners to flood our blog with reaction to Barack Obama's watershed speech on race and politics. Web producer Geoffrey Bennett talks about the response and a new NPR initiative aimed at finding out what motivates people politically.

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I'm Farai Chideya, and this is NEWS AND NOTES. The reaction to Barack Obama's speech on race and politics was instant and intense. Our Web producer Geoffrey Bennett is back to give us a read on the reaction. Hey, Geoff.


CHIDEYA: So what have people been saying on the blog about the Obama speech?

BENNETT: Yeah, well the responses range from people who were impressed by the speech to those who liked what he had to say but were afraid that he'd be now painted as the black candidate. So here's a sampling, this from Glen Anderson: I'm 40 years old, and this is one of the most moving and inspiring speeches I've ever heard. My parents have Malcolm and Martin to speak of when talking about their contemporaries. I now have Barack Obama.

Bill M. wrote: Bad timing. With the news cycle focusing on the bottom falling out of the economy, this speech on race seems mildly out of touch with the real issues affecting Americans.

And Dee from Los Angeles wrote: Now that he's addressed the race issue, will it change perceptions of Obama? It was a powerful speech, but I believe there are Americans who will never believe that a black man is capable of loving this country.

CHIDEYA: So how's the election playing out in the larger blogosphere?

BENNETT: Well, bloggers, as we know, are often the first to respond to the day's news. And according to Nielson's Blog Pulse Index, over the past month, bloggers have been focusing most Barack Obama, then Hillary Clinton and John McCain, in that order.

So on March 5th, the day after Hillary won the Texas and Ohio primaries, the number of blog posts about her doubled. And since this Jeremiah Wright controversy broke, the number of blog posts about Barack Obama have nearly tripled those of Senator Clinton. And John McCain's trip to Iraq hasn't delivered the kind of attention he'd like, at least not from bloggers. He's still trailing behind both Democrats in terms of blog trends.

CHIDEYA: So what else can folks find online from us this week?

BENNETT: Well, this week launched a new initiative called Get My Vote. So we're interested in the concerns and convictions that are motivating people this election season. And folks can upload video, text or audio commentaries, and there's more about how to do that on the front page of our blog, and we're still on Facebook. And people can get NEWS AND NOTES in their inbox each day by signing up for our newsletter. So they should do that, as well.

CHIDEYA: All right. Well, Geoff, thanks again.

BENNETT: Thank you.

CHIDEYA: Geoffrey Bennett is the Web producer for NEWS AND NOTES, and he joined me from our studios at NPR West.

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