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Andrew Cherwenka

Andrew Cherwenka

Posted: April 17, 2009 03:22 AM

Changing the Face of Media: Kutcher vs CNN

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"The old guard has passed and the new guard is here. And the new guard likes to ding dong ditch people just for fun." - Ashton Kutcher in his victory speech after beating CNN to the million follower mark.

At 2:13am EDT Friday, Ashton Kutcher took the crown in a much-hyped race against CNN to 1 million Twitter followers. The friendly competition included three on-air pleas by CNN's Anderson Cooper and Erica Hill in the span of ten minutes.

I wrote a post at the start of this race criticizing Kutcher for "not getting it." After watching his livecast on ustream.tv for the last few hours, I gladly take that back.

Kutcher gets new media. His livecast during the race - a continuous live video stream over the internet - was an engaged conversation. He read followers' tweets on air, asked questions, and actively engaged his audience using Twitter. He linked us to YouTube clips and his chosen charity, www.malarianomore.org. He advanced his next cause, fighting human trafficking.

"We can and will create our media," Kutcher said in his victory speech on ustream.tv. "We can and will broadcast our media. We can and will censor our own media ourselves. We are over a million."

All true, though understated. Kutcher's audience is now far greater than just the million people on Twitter. And while we might be quick to pass celebrities off as being in this for their own good, it takes more than that to break through the noise. Kutcher's push just might end malaria deaths and with the audience he's attracted he could also have a serious impact against human trafficking.

"Twitter allows people to share, to connect in a way that they weren't able to connect before," Kutcher said. "And i think that is really cool."

After making a toast to Ted Turner, Larry King and others involved in the competition, Kutcher ended his victory speech with this thanks to his followers: "And last but not least, to all of you. I cannot follow myself."

Good for you, Ashton Kutcher. And more importantly, good for all of us.

Follow Andrew Cherwenka on Twitter: www.twitter.com/cherwenka