On Saturday, Nov. 15, President-elect Barack Obama spoke directly to the American people through a platform unfamiliar to past presidentsYouTube.
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. But Obama, who utilized the Internet more than any candidate in history, has decided to fulfill that role through Web videos.
Four years ago, during President George Bush's re-election campaign, YouTube did not exist. But, in the last two years, the Obama campaign uploaded over 1,800 videos of various speeches, events and advertisements to the site, which was a factor in his grassroots success.
"This election, more than any other, was an Internet affair," said Marist College 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."
Andrew Rasiej and Michah L. Sifry, founders of TechPresident.com, a blog about technology and the '08 campaign, found as of the end of October, that 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 former senator transitions into the White House, Obama has made it clear that his Internet presence will remain strong. The YouTube video released last Saturday is the first weekly address that the President-elect plans to disseminate.
Junior Sal Furino, who voted for Obama, appreciates Obama's use of technology, but is weary of the problems the videos might pose.
"I applaud the use of technology that the President-elect is using," 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 for which he speaks We as a public have to make informed decisions upon what is truly best for us, before addressing our respective representatives."
In the three and a half minute video, Obama urged Congress to approve 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," Obama concluded.
In the meantime, Obama is gearing up his ambitious agenda to meet the challenge of withdrawing U.S. forces from Iraq, improving our energy independence, and improving foreign relations.