On January 18th, 2011 IFE hosted its first Media and Technology Roundtable of the new year at the Royal Norwegian Ambassador’s Residence. The Ambassador of Norway, His Excellency Wegger Chr. Strømmen, Rev. Dr. Cecilie Jørgensen Strømmen, and IFE CEO Coach Kathy Kemper welcomed honored guest Norman Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute, who kicked off the discussion of key political and media trends following the seating of the new Congress. The group also welcomed special guest Justice Stephen Breyer.
Key themes of the evening included the challenges to civility in our public and private political discourse and opportunities to promote more positive dialogue, the rise of partisan media and the success of their business models in comparison to more centrist media, new technologies and their influence on elections and governance, campaign finance and the demands of “never-ending” election cycles on elected officials, and the effects of redistricting. The discussion of campaign finance included a comparison to Norway, where campaign donations are strictly limited, candidates cannot buy television time, and citizens are fined for not voting.
There was also a robust discussion on the actual influence of money in elections with so many new, inexpensive channels beyond television to reach voters. Mr. Ornstein also shared news of an online program he will launch soon that will allow users to calculate and draw their own redistricting lines to see the effect on likely voter makeup. On the same evening as the arrival of Chinese President Hu, the group enjoyed the thoughts of Undersecretary of State Robert Hormats and others in the room who are increasingly engaged with media, technology and economic opportunities in China. China’s views on intellectual property and industrial policy received special attention from the group. The guests all commented on the beautiful table arrangements, fine Bordeaux and delicious meal the Norwegian Embassy provided.
Other guests in attendance included Leah Bannon, Catherine Bohigian, Chris Caine, Henry Ellenbogen, Greg Farmer, John Paul Farmer, Scott Ferber, Tony Florence, Shane Green, Don Rainey, Vijay Ravindran, and Mark Schulte. MTR members concluded the evening was an MTR highlight!