Sunday, November 16, 2008

President-elect Obama Ditches Old Media for New Media, Weekly Address Moves from Radio to YouTube

There's been a lot of discussion around the internet since President-Elect Barack Obama announced that his weekly radio messages will become video messages available each week on his YouTube Channel ChangeDotGov.

It's an interesting development in how social media has transformed the way our political leaders engage in conversation and community.

Your Weekly Address from the President-Elect
President-elect Obama talks about the economy in this week's Democratic address. For more information, visit

While comments have been disabled for the video the conversation has unfolded in other forums like FriendFeed where Allen Stern and Dan Farber both raised the issue of the President-elect posting on a commercial site which has the appearance of favoring or endorsing YouTube over other video sharing sites.

Allen Stern said,"My issue with the YouTube selection is around fair competition. I'd prefer that the videos not be embeddable and be offered online only on the and websites. If they are going to use online video hosting services as an outlet, I'd like to see a full RFP process take place. All video hosts who want to host the weekly videos should have an equal chance of winning the government contract." - from Obama Says Yes We Can Use YouTube - Digital Life Blog - InformationWeek

Dan Farber asked this question, "But why should the incoming president, or public official, favor one Internet video service over another? Yahoo, MSN, Blip, Veoh, and other video-sharing sites shouldn't have to lobby the White House for equal time or at least some time. I am sure the choice of YouTube was practical, and has nothing to do with Google CEO Eric Schmidt's very public support of Obama. Implicit product endorsements are difficult to avoid for any public official." - from Obama appoints YouTube (Google) as secretary of video | Outside the Lines - CNET News

Many others love the idea and say that it's a good step toward reaching the masses since YouTube is so mainstream compared to other video sharing sites and actually the video is also available on AOL, Yahoo, and MSN and High-resolution, Quicktime format: (106MB .mov file.) I noticed that the video on uses the embedded YouTube player and they also included the full text transcript in the post. If they continue to distribute videos on YouTube I'd like to see them incorporate the new captions feature so that it would be easier to translate his message into different languages and make it more accessible for the hearing impaired. That would be an added value to using YouTube as a distribution platform.

Coturnix had another perspective, "People like Dan Farber and Allen Stern are worried about favouritism - why YouTube and not other video services? Answer: if the only place they place a video is, then someone else will put it on YouTube, perhaps edited, with open comments, who knows what else. By posting it on YouTube themselves, the Obama comms folks are putting a degree of control over the message. In the next few months, they may decide to do the same on several other video-hosting services. This was just the first address, and YouTube, being such an 6000lbs gorilla (or is it an elephant in the room?), is the obvious place to go and test the waters first before embarking on a more ambitious program." - from A Blog Around The Clock : Will there be new communication channels in the Obama administration?

I agree and I'll be watching as he continues make history and I'll be participating in the conversation.

Here are some related blog posts and discussion:
Update: Fixed a few typos, grammatical errors and added some new text.