On Saturday president-elect Barack Obama spoke directly to the American people through a platform unfamiliar to past presidents—YouTube.
Connecting the White House and the American home has been an important part of the presidency since Franklin Roosevelt held his fireside chats over the radio waves. Obama, who utilized the Internet more than any candidate in history, plans to fulfill that role through Web videos.
Four years ago during President Bush’s reelection campaign, YouTube did not exist—how things have changed.
Over the past two years the Obama campaign uploaded over 1,800 videos of various speeches, events, and advertisements to the site, which contributed to his grassroots success.
This election, more than any other, was an internet affair,” said freshman Justin Bassett. “One of the major reasons that Obama was able to win the election was his campaign’s ability to embrace the internet and drum up support there.”
According to stats recently compiled by Andrew Rasiej and Michah L. Sifry, founders of TechPresident.com, a blog about technology and the ’08 campaign, as of the end of October, Web users had spent more than 14 million hours watching videos posted to YouTube by team Obama. Had the campaign opted to purchase the same amount of time on TV in 30-second spots, it would have cost about $47 million.
As the senator transitions into the White House he has made it clear that his Internet presence will remain strong. The YouTube video released Saturday is the first weekly address that the President-elect plans to disseminate.
Some Marist students are impressed with Obama’s initiative.
I think it is definitely innovative for President-elect Obama to have weekly addresses on YouTube,” said junior Brittany Firoenza. “This first installment was motivational and his rhetoric serves as a means of amping national morale.”
“YouTube could become the medium for the governmental transparency that Obama has promised,” said Bassett.
Junior Sal Furino, who voted for Obama, appreciates Obama’s use of technology, but is weary of the problems these videos might pose.
“I applaud the use of technology by the president-elect,” said Furino, “However, I am concerned that this might provoke some impulsive viewers to believe whatever he says, without doing their own research on the issues of which he speaks… We as a public have to make informed decisions upon what is truly best for us, before writing/conversing our respective representatives.”
In the three and a half minute video, Obama urged Congress to pass a down payment on a rescue plan during what he called “the greatest economic challenge of our times.”
“Our global economic crisis requires a coordinated global response, and yet as we act in concert with other nations we must also act immediately here at home to address America’s own economic crisis,” said Obama.
Obama said that if Congress does not pass an immediate rescue plan, he will make it his first order as the president to do so.