The Ontario Liberal Web site: Kodachrome or black and white?

By: Sandford BorinsYears ago, in his hit Kodachrome, Paul Simon sang about the “nice bright colours” he so vividly remembered and told us that “everything looks worse in black and white.”The Ontario PC Party site, discussed in my previous entry, has a lot of Kodachrome, and the Ontario Liberal site a lot of black and white. But is Kodachrome necessarily better politics?The Ontario Liberal home page opens up with the slogan “this is your time to make a difference,” a picture of Premier McGuinty, and is mainly black and white, with splashes of Liberal red. It has the usual stuff – find your candidate, news about policies, and options to donate, volunteer, and join.Unlike the Conservatives' site, though, it doesn't have a leader's video blog nor does it link to sites on Facebook, Flickr, and YouTube.McGuinty's personal site, emphasizes simplicity and is predominantly black and white. Indeed, the section where McGuinty replies to tough questions on 13 policy issues (e.g. why did you break your promise not to raise taxes?) is titled “black and white.”The site is trying to paint a portrait of a straight-forward leader who has considerable achievements to show for his four years in office. It also personalizes him in a video about his family origins, narrated by his wife, siblings, and children.In terms of policy, under the heading “Progress for Ontario,” the site includes the party's complete 2003 election platform, as well as a listing of accomplishments in the priority areas of education, health, and economic and community development. What is absent, of course, is the platform for 2007. Stay tuned for that one.The Ontario Young Liberals' site, linked three levels down on the party site, presents a video warning that John Tory, if elected premier, would deliver Mike Harris's discredited policies, shows Tory's face morphing into Harris's, and ends with the rock lyrics, “meet the new boss, same as the old boss, don't get fooled again.”Is this a hint of things to come? Will the Liberals elevate this type of attack to the party's home page? Stay tuned again.The Liberal site is available in its entirety in French, but it's not apparent how to get there. When clicking sent me to a URL with the letters “en” in it, I substituted “fr” to get to the French site. That site, however, is not clearly linked to the English home page.All the text in is available in French, but not the videos. I also couldn't find any options for expanding print size in either language, which is a problem, because the print on the home page and elsewhere is quite small.My overall grade for the Liberals' site, like the PC Party's, is A-. The difference is that the Liberals did theirs mainly in black and white, the Tories mainly in Kodachrome. Paul Simon concluded his song, “mama don't take my Kodachrome away.” Was he right?Next week, I'm going to dig deeper into the three campaigns, and look at them as examples of narrative, the idea that what they ultimately are all about is telling a convincing story.

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