State Dept. seeks democracy videos

Government teams with media orgs on contest

The U.S. State Dept. has revealed its latest diplomatic tool: user-generated content. At the U.N. on Monday, representatives revealed the Democracy Video Challenge, a government initiative co-sponsored with half a dozen high-profile media orgs including NBC Universal, the DGA and the MPAA.

The challenge in question will be to create a three-minute video completing the phrase “Democracy is…” in hopes of receiving a prize package that includes set visits, tickets to the Universal Studios L.A. theme park, and meetings with everyone from U.S. government officials to “new-media experts.”

Rather than attempting to monetize the content, sponsoring orgs will contribute various prizes and incentives, including PSAs promoting the competish on NBC (NBC News correspondent Richard Engel also presided over the afternoon’s launch party).

James Glassman, undersecretary of state for public diplomacy, said the initiative was aimed to “convene people for a conversation.” Glassman is a Bush appointee, but stressed that the initiative was thoroughly bipartisan and includes nonmedia sponsors like the Intl. Republican Institute and the National Democratic Institute.

The State Dept.’s Jonathan Margolis said he hoped that the contest would start “a dialogue on democracy” — the prizes will go to regional winners from six different parts of the world, as well as one anonymous winner. Videos will be broadcast on YouTube. Entry deadline is Jan. 31.