It’s unclear how many listen to President George W. Bush’s weekly radio addresses. I suppose reporters tune in, because I occasionally catch an excerpt on NPR, but I’ve never heard of anyone setting up their own podcast feed from WhiteHouse.gov for the weekly words of wisdom. Will that change when President-Elect Barak Obama takes over?
According to The Washington Post, Obama appears to be planning a weekly video address to be distributed on the White House’s own YouTube Channel. During the campaigns both political parties used online video extensively, but we’ve had no real indications until now of how much the government-based “new media” rage would continue post election. A YouTube channel certainly makes sense, but I’m hesitant to get too giddy over the fact that the weekly address will utilize a new medium.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m entirely supportive of an Obama administration that uses YouTube. But I wonder how well the administration will be able to use it. Will the weekly addresses come across as oratory or conversation? Should the President really have an ongoing conversation with the public or should he be operating at an entirely different level? Will the YouTube channel have comments enabled? Will the adminstration ever respond to comments? Will other video sites or bloggers be able to distribute or embed segments? The questions go on and on, and I certainly don’t know the answers. But those answers will determine whether the new YouTube addresses get watched by the public during the next administration, or only by reporters and historians. After all, how much does it matter if you have a YouTube channel, or a blog, or a Twitter account? It’s what you have to say and how you say it that matters.