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TelevisionWeek contributing writer Daisy Whitney is blogging about the pinnacles and pitfalls facing viewers who want to consume television in new ways. Check in frequently as Daisy kicks the tires on the new media juggernaut and dishes on which services do -- and don’t -- make the cut.

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Trial and Error



‘Wheel’ Offers a Different Take on America

October 22, 2008 10:27 AM

Do you live in Real America or Fake America? It’s a question that Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart asked this week on his cable parody news program.

But you can also get answers to a similar question in the Web show “A Year at the Wheel,” which I’ll be reviewing today as part of my current slate of Twitter-Facebook Web show reviews.

The premise of the show, according to the Web site, is this: "A married couple sets out on the road for an entire year with their dog and turtle to cover the election from the underside of America—the underground, the underpaid and the under-reported on ZIP codes. The filmmaking duo put humanity to the test, starting out with less than $200 in their pockets, no credit cards, no bank account or safety net. They make their way from town to town, working odd jobs, depending on the kindness of strangers, and looking for a reason to cast a vote come Election Day."

It’s kind of similar in ethos to “Amtrekker,” but the biggest difference is the specific focus on the election in “A Year at the Wheel.”

In a recent episode of “A Year at the Wheel,” the filmmakers posed this question to men and women on the street: “What do you think is the best and the worst thing about America?” The answers ranged from drugs to the free market of ideas to ignorance to the land to the people.

When I think about the range of sources we can and should get our election news from, it occurs to me that it can’t hurt to have “A Year at the Wheel” in the mix, alongside The New York Times, CNN, ABCNews.com, Politico, etc.

Why? Because the show delivers on its promise—it gives a real sense of what real people are thinking. And not the two-second sound bites from “real people” that get dropped into network news.



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Comments (4)

Chopped Liver:

Quote: "...the show delivers on its promise—it gives a real sense of what real people are thinking. And not the two-second sound bites from “real people” that get dropped into network news."

I doubt it very much. Jon Stewart doesn't have an honest bone in his body. Why should I assume the show hasn't been edited to match his twisted, cynical view of reality? Sorry, tovarisch-nyet interested.

Rick:

That clip was very interesting (even entertaining until that last bite), but reporting from the "underside" of America doesn't help anyone understand the whole picture unless it is balanced by coverage of mainstream middle America. I think a lot of media bias comes from the fact that journalists/creatives don't find the latter interesting. So much time is spent "shining a light" onto darker corners of our society that the resulting picture is totally distorted.

ReadingIsFundamental:

Wow, ChoppedLiver, way to go on the knee-jerk reaction. Try actually reading the post, and you will see that although that dirty lefty Jon Stewart is mentioned, the video reviewed has nothing to do with him and he is not involved in its creation.
But thanks for your thoughtful reaction.

Thanx Daisy!
Rick, you're correct... I/we didn't find the 'other' side of the coin interesting at all.

UNTIL our trip.

If you look into ALL of our videos you'll find a stop at the Creation Museum, a stay with a christian minister and strangers who we would have never given a thought to if it we're not for this project.

I find REVOLUTION to be in the simplest of all things, talking AND listening to folks you DON'T agree with... really trying to get to know them and their side.

We end in D.C. on Nov 4th - hope to see you there!

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