Letters to the Editor

Periscope opens a window onto the candidates

The Fourth Estate is not officially recognized, but it’s the unassuming power of information. Over the past few months the Herald Editorial Board Periscoped its candidate interviews for the August primary, thus widening the doors of democracy. When the founders of Periscope decided to document life with live video through Twitter, I doubt they considered its power to reshape civic engagement. The Editorial Board has done just that, and it should be applauded.

Unlike the passive viewing experience of YouTube, that of Periscope is active. Viewers can comment, ask questions and “like” in real time. But you have to catch it live or quickly after, or it’s gone. Some would argue against this feature, but it’s the reason it creates a community circle — it doesn’t revolve around you!

In Miami-Dade County, just over 20 percent of registered voters participated in the Aug. 30 primary. And that dismal figure surpasses 2014’s turnout of 14 percent. Though 2012 saw a 20 percent turnout, in 2010, only 18 percent participated.

That means that in Miami-Dade this year, 80 percent of the people who have a valid voter-registration card stayed home.

This places an enormous burden on those of us who do vote. We have to be informed because we essentially are making the decisions for those who won’t, decisions that determine School Board members, judges, mayors, commissioners, state senator and representative and ballot initiatives.

Those of us that take this responsibility as our civic duty to our families, community and country have a burden to bear.

But it’s one that’s made lighter when our smart phones can be used as “periscopes” to see candidates answering tough questions that are focused and issue based. We get to see their personality, vision and agenda without them playing to an audience.

Christopher Norwood, spokesman, Democratic Black Caucus of Florida, Miami