St. John’s Student Goes Viral
Today’s 24-hour news cycle makes political candidates increasingly vigilant about what they say publicly. Their words are archived indefinitely on sites like YouTube, and beamed around the world in seconds through social media sites such as Twitter.
Recognizing the incredible power of the medium, History major Andrew Kaczynski ‘12C has discovered a way that potential voters can see candidates in a new light. Recently, Andrew began posting several clips online featuring political candidates, often showcasing them in unscripted situations or making statements contrary to their current political views. Several of those clips went viral.
Andrew recently appeared on The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell on MSNBC and was interviewed by phone on C-SPAN, discussing his postings.
A Different View
“It all started when I posted a video of David Weprin dancing really terribly at the Soul Summit Music Festival in Brooklyn in 2009,” Andrew said. Weprin was the one-time Democratic nominee to replace Anthony Weiner in New York’s Ninth Congressional District’s special election. Within a few days the video received 20,000 hits and was picked up by national news organizations, political blogs and was featured on “Jimmy Kimmel Live.”
“I realized there’s this space to fill for people who want to see politically related videos, whether archival or recent,” Andrew observed, noting that with hours of material available, it was often easy to catch politicians saying things that don’t agree with their current positions.
“They’re so polished and put forth an image they want people to accept, but these videos really show how they’ve evolved until their current political self appears,” Andrew stressed, adding that he wants to give people a perspective on candidates that isn’t readily available to them. “You get to see where they’ve been as opposed to where they are now. It lets people look at candidates outside the box.”
Andrew noted that the non-stop news coverage is challenging for politicians. “It changes campaigns so much. Twitter has changed the way people get their news. Instead of clicking ‘refresh’ on CNN or Fox you can see it as it happens. It’s to the minute and it changes the way people run campaigns.”
Recently, Andrew posted a 2004 Mitt Romney ad that accused then-Presidential candidate John Kerry of being a “flip-flopper.” Within two hours, the Democratic National Committee edited the clip into one of their ads. “It’s all about speed,” Andrew observed, noting that the pace also is challenging for reporters, who are now more prone to allow errors to creep into their stories. “It also can be corrected just as fast.”
Andrew stressed that his own political views do not influence what he chooses to post. “It’s more of a service that shows people all of the candidates. There’s no agenda.” He added that he does choose to focus on the front runners. “Those are who people want to see,” he said.
Since he began this work, Andrew has become proficient at finding what he needs quickly and efficiently. He noted that C-SPAN has an archive on every modern politician. For example, Newt Gingrich’s archive stretches back to the late 1970s, when he entered Congress. Andrew noted that for politicians with a smaller archive, such as Mitt Romney, it’s much easier to find material quickly.
Currently, Andrew is a part-time contributor to Buzzfeed.com and anticipates working there full-time upon graduation. “I interned in Washington, DC. for the Republican National Committee and for a congressman from California, but I realized that I don’t want to work in government. I’m not a partisan person, and I don’t like the idea of cheerleading for one side. I find the real entertainment factor is in covering (politics).”
Andrew knows he will be extremely busy this coming election year between finishing his coursework and covering a myriad of political stories such as the seemingly endless stream of debates.
Several of Andrew’s family members attended St. John’s and his father graduated from The School of Law. He transferred to St. John’s after attending Ohio University. “There’s so much diversity here — socio-economically, racially and ethnically. There’s a different work ethic here. People are so much more motivated. They want to succeed. It’s a great environment in which to learn.”
We invite you to look at Andrew’s YouTube channel and his Twitter feed.