Election Connection

January 2009 Archives


Brand New Day

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Washington is starting to clear out - the celebrities have gone home and the Obama administration is starting its real work in the White House.  But we can't forget about a weekend that will be remembered for generations.

The inauguration festivities were tracked in a totally new way this year - with a lens into the festivities from the people from around the country who suffered through sub-freezing temperatures and ran around a sometimes-confusing city whose population more than doubled over the weekend. In addition, new technologies gave way for in-depth looks at the festivities, from close up and afar.

For a bird's eye view of the day on the National Mall, NASA provided satellite images, tracking the migration of over a million people gathered from the Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial.

Flickr's Inauguration Day project gathered photos from people watching the festivities from near and far, in living rooms and offices and intersections.

The first presidential address to be streamed online was former President Bill Clinton's second inaugural in 1997, but now the addresses of all former presidents are available online, and the interactive aspects of yesterday's event show how much has changed. 

CNN and Facebook partnered so users could read status updates while watching the day's events and Inaugurationreport.com showed live text updates from around the world. To relive the moment and hear the full inaugural address, check out Online NewsHour's text, audio and analysis of yesterday's events. And for a firsthand view, on YouTube, hundreds of videos show up in a search for "inauguration day".


Scenes For History

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As the parade marches down Pennsylvania Avenue and the Washington elite primp for the inaugural balls, it's a good chance to take a few minutes in the quiet afternoon to reflect on year - in politics, online and in the country as a whole.

Tavis Smiley's Young Voices blog has a running list of observations and hopes for the Obama inauguration and administration, including expanding Change.gov and rethinking who is eligible to be a VIP at the presidential events.

Some of the thoughts of people watching and attending the swearing-in and parade are being shared on KQED's site, like this critical look at Obama's speech:

"Expectations are a dangerous thing. I kept waiting for the JFK/FDR moment when he'd say something that truly resonated, that would give us a line or a concept that would take on a life of its own. Perhaps he purposefully kept the soaring oratory to a minimum, to squelch the naysayers who think he's all speechmaking and no substance?"

At exactly 12:01pm ET, WhiteHouse.gov shifted to a new design, mimicking the Obama campaign website and featuring a blog with news from inside the new White House.

In the first post, blogger and Director of New Media Macon Phillips wrote: "Just like your new government, WhiteHouse.gov and the rest of the Administration's online programs will put citizens first."

With the feeling of unity in Washington today, it's easy to forget that the 2008 election was a close one and there are still deep divisions in U.S. politics.  You can share your thoughts on former President Bush's legacy on NOW's website.

How did you watch the Inaugural events? If you were there, tell us about it.


The Big Day

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Here are some easy ways to follow the inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th president of the U.S. online.

Online NewsHour's live video stream of the event will be co-hosted with NPR starting at 11am. There's also an interactive map.

Watch all the past inauguration speeches, from George Washington to George W. Bush.

Follow live reports from the event and share your own on Twitter with the tag "#inaug09. or check out the Current TV mashup. I'll be keeping track from http://www.twitter.com/laura_pbs.

Share your photos from Washington in the Flickr photo pool and check out scenes from around the city and the world documenting today's historic events.


Just Waking Up

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There's been a phrase heard over and over again in Washington this week -- that the election of the first African-American president is "Martin Luther King, Jr.'s dream realized."  Would King think we're there yet?

I posed this question to my followers on the mobile blogging site Twitter (I'm @laura_pbs) and got a variety of responses. An elementary teacher from Lebanon, Pa responded: "I'd say King's dream realized for MOST individuals: MOST kids don't see race at all until adults bring it up." But a mortgage broker from Atlanta said there's still work to be done: "This will always be on going- We have just turned a chapter."

While this week is certainly a time for hyperbole in Washington - the black tie balls, over-the-top security measures, and packed subway trains - it seems impossible to overstate King's words and their meaning for the incoming administration and their impact at this time in history.  

At the "We are One" concert on the National Mall Sunday, Irish rock star Bono noted that King's dream of equality isn't just for America. "It's an Irish dream, a European dream, and African dream, an Israeli dream, and a Palestinian dream," he said.


The new administration's declaration making Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday a national day of service indicates that there's still all kinds of work to be done to make the country and the world a better place. USAService.org provides an easy way to find all kinds of opportunities in your local area - for today or any day. If you're participating in the call to service, share your stories here.  


The Political Party

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As plans for the biggest party of the decade heat up in Washington, D.C., various media organizations are reaching out to hear what Inauguration Day means to the public and get first hand reports online and on the air.

Similar to VoteReport, which asked voters to submit their stories from the polls on Election Day, a new project spearheaded by NPR is asking voters to tell their experiences from Washington on January 20 in real time, using mobile blogging site Twitter.

This post explains the process for participating in Inauguration Report. Before you go out into the cold, consult the Citizens Media Law Project guidelines for covering the Inauguration.

But you don't have to be in Washington to get in on the action. You can watch the star-studded Lincoln Memorial concert on TV or catch Tuesday's swearing in from the comfort of your living room, but you can also get involved - online and in person, no matter where you live.

Monday has been declared a National Day of Service in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday. Check out MLK Day.org to search for opportunities in your area.

In addition, various issue-focused interest groups are using the web to get their supporters to ask questions and raise issues for the new administration to address. Al Gore's climate change project LiveEarth is asking people to submit their questions and ideas about green living for presentation on Inauguration Day using their new video site.

And anti-poverty campaign One.org has a petition timed around the inauguration to ask President-elect Obama to put poverty on the administration's agenda.  

What are your plans for Inauguration weekend?

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