President-elect Obama to address the YouTube nation*
* This post was updated at 6:05 p.m. with a comment from the Obama campaign.
You've heard of user-generated content.
But president-elect-generated content?
Now that's a first.
Today Barack Obama is recording the weekly four-minute Democratic address on radio and on video. The YouTube video will be posted on Obama's transition site, Change.gov, on Saturday morning. Obama will continue to record these videos and post them weekly to make sure that what happens in Washington doesn't stay in Washington.
YouTube was just one pillar in a new media campaign the likes of which the country has never seen. The Web played a crucial role in Obama's historic win, forever changing the way campaigns organize and connect with supporters and voters. After all, this is the presidential candidate who joked that everything you need to know about him is right there on his Facebook page (favorite movies: "Casablanca," "Godfather I & II," "Lawrence of Arabia" and "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest").
Obama is the first president elected in the era of Facebook and YouTube. And the Obama campaign wrote the playbook on how to use new-media tools ...
... to rally the nation. It uploaded 1,800 videos to YouTube that collectively were viewed more than 110 million times, giving the campaign a sure-fire channel to reach supporters and snuff out controversies. It was also a brilliant way to stay on message.
So it comes as no surprise that President-elect Obama will continue that tradition by delivering the Internet version of President Franklin Roosevelt's "fireside chats." Obama can hope that those chats become just as popular with the American public as bulldogs on skateboards. The White House also plans to hold online question-and-answer sessions and video interviews. "The goal is to put a face on government," Obama spokesman Nick Shapiro said.
The Obama administration plans to create a White House channel to stay in touch with his peeps and make the political process more transparent. It could become a powerful platform to generate support for his policies.
At last week's Web 2.0 conference, Joe Trippi, the Democratic political consultant, said:
It's about the president and people connecting in ways they never have, and actually passing an agenda on healthcare and energy. It’s not an appeal to partisanship. We’re about to see a White House with more power than Congress. Congress is going to be caught between a rock and a hard place. Because now there’s the president and this network. They use to say, "It’s the economy, stupid." Now, "It’s the network, stupid."
And Obama's Silicon Valley base expects nothing less.
"Obama told us in an interview last year that he planned to have fireside chats on video," YouTube spokesman Aaron Ferstman said. "We expect the administration to launch a channel soon after he takes office. It's a great opportunity to reach out to Americans on the issue of the day and to bring legions of online supporters with him to the White House. It will give them an inside look at how their government works and the issues his administration faces as they tackle challenges."
So what's next for the Obama White House?
In the age of interactivity, Silicon Valley will agitate for fewer one-way addresses on YouTube and more open dialogues between the White House and the public.
Repeat after me: Yes, he can.
-- Jessica Guynn
Photo: President-elect Barack Obama. Credit: Joe Raedle / Getty Images