A YouTube video of high school student Keith Wagner's recent interview with Arizona state senator John Huppenthal about cuts to education funding reveals a politician who likely believed a student journalist interview to be low-stakes, not worthy of much preparation.
I'll bet he sees it differently now.
The three versions of this video I found on YouTube (one longer, one shorter) have attracted, so far, more than 281,600 views -- far more than Huppenthal likely expected to be reached by the student's assignment.
Before the Internet, politicians (and other public spokespeople) did interviews with large media outlets and small ones, each of which had a relatively defined audience.
An interview with a reporter from a small-town newspaper would normally only ever reach an audience in that small town -- or maybe a few bored out-of-town visitors. And an interview with a high school student might even be seen less as a serious interview than as a community relations gesture.
In a classic 1990s episode of Seinfeld, Jerry learned the hard way that, even before the Internet, an interview with a relatively small media outlet didn't necessarily mean the story would be confined to its audience, if the news was interesting enough. And now that we have all the tools of Web 2.0, interesting stories are that much easier to share.
This summer vacation, Sen. Huppenthal might consider catching up on his Peachtree TV viewing, familiarizing himself with YouTube, and getting some media training.