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Monday, January 5, 2009

Rapid Response

Posted by on Mon, Jan 5, 2009 at 9:07 AM

Last night I walked through the sideways snow to Moe's, where about 25 notable voices in the local hip hop community were gathered in the back to discuss how they should respond to Saturday's shooting at Chop Suey. Jonah will have more about the shooting soon, and Dominic, who covered the second half of last night's meeting, has a lot to say about what was decided.

Me, I had to leave the meeting before decisions were officially made, so I only saw the process—which was off-the-record so that people could speak freely. Without revealing what was spoken, I will say that the scene was oddly familiar to someone who's spent the last few years immersed in political doings.

This caught me off guard. The last thing I expected last night at Moe's was an election-related flashback. But what I saw there in the back of the bar was, essentially, a downbeat, far more sincere, and decidedly more fashionable version of War Room, the 1992 documentary about Bill Clinton's rapid media response team (now part of the template for modern political-media strategy).

Really, I shouldn't have been so surprised. Now that everyone—from David Axelrod to your average member of 206 Zulu—is a media producer, everyone, naturally, is in a position to throw together an impromptu war room and start trying to shape a favorable media message. Attendees at last night's meeting brought laptops (one open to a Twitter feed), iPhones, digital cameras, and at least one digital video recorder. Ideas ranged all over the old- and new-media maps. The hip hop advocates knew a potential media shit-storm when they saw one, and they were not about to let it catch them off guard.

 

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