President-elect Obama will add a new media wrinkle today to his weekly radio address: the first YouTube video version, to be posted on his transition site.
It's the first visible result of a major transition-team effort to make Obama's conversations with the electorate more direct. In addition, members and supporters of the White House media upgrade want more input opportunities for the public.
Many of the changes, if adopted, also would curb the power of a traditional, but often unpopular, middleman between presidents and the populace: the mainstream media.
Spokesman Nick Shapiro said Obama's transition team wasn't ready to discuss innovations in White House communications. But the community that thinks about ways the Internet can advance politics and democracy is small, talkative and in close touch with Obama's analysts.
Alan Rosenblatt, who directs Internet activism efforts at the Center for American Progress Action Fund, predicts that Obama's future videos will break through radio's five-minute limit to become a communications form of their own.
Indeed, in a 2007 YouTube interview, Obama said he intended to use the medium for “fireside chats.”
Connecting the White House hearth to the American home, Franklin Roosevelt talked to the people through the radio, with crackling broadcasts delivered near a crackling fire. John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan mastered television.
For Obama, who built a big part of his campaign on the Internet, it's YouTube.
Another proposal before the transition team is to give Obama's Internet audience a chance to question him directly, either as part of a traditional news conference or separately.
A prototype of sorts went live this week at www.obamacto.org. It's enabled thousands of respondents to vote on what the priorities should be for a new position that Obama has created, chief technology officer. The Associated Press contributed.