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Obama Will Broadcast Weekly Addresses On YouTube

This story was written by Colin Kavanaugh, Daily Pennsylvanian

When President-elect Barack Obama moves into the White House on Jan. 20, technology will make the historic move with him.

With more than 3 million online donors and many more millions of supporters in an e-mail database, the president-elect is poised to fulfill his promise to be the first "Internet president."

Using the same online technology that made his campaign accessible, such as YouTube and Facebook, Obama intends to dramatically change the way the White House communicates with the American people.

Randall Miller, a political analyst and St. Joseph's University history professor, said the Obama administration is trying to "keep alive the connection" to voters that it forged on the campaign trail.

The most notable example so far has been Obama's weekly video address, which is available online.

Begun by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt during the Great Depression and re-initiated by President Ronald Reagan during the 1980s, the weekly radio address has been a central part of the modern White House.

"This is a phenomenally important development for the future of politics," said University of Pennsylvania junior Lauren Burdette, the president of Penn Democrats.

Burdette noted that the video addresses represent a critical shift in the way government is conducted and provide an opportunity for students to stay involved.

"Who listens to the radio in college?" she said.

Today's presidential radio address is relatively inaccessible to most students and is only available through some news outlets.

As of yesterday, more than a million people had viewed Obama's first YouTube address since his election, which was released on Nov. 15.

"This will not be the only means of connecting with voters" through technology, Miller emphasized, but it represents a significant break from previous administrations.

Also, Miller said, like Roosevelt and Reagan, this technology has a practical side for governance.

The online addresses will be a way for Obama to test ideas on the American people and explain policy initiatives, he said.

It also enables him to turn his database of supporters into a lobbying arm to get new legislation passed in Congress.

Penn sophomore Michael Stratton, the president of Penn for Obama, said he believes this form of communication will keep students involved.

Obama is "the first president to understand the significance of the Internet and technology for grassroots" organizing, said Stratton.

In addition to networking, Obama announced his vice-presidential choice, Delaware Sen. Joe Biden, through a massive text message sent out to supporters - a way to personalize the decision before the media broke the news.

Now that the election is over, Stratton said this use of technology will be a "requirement for all future campaigns" but will also help "make the presidency much more transparent."

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