Daily Video

March 27, 2009

Obama is Ubiquitous Online and On Air

President Barack Obama hosted the first presidential online chat yesterday, answering questions submitted and voted on by visitors to Whitehouse.gov in a town hall style meeting that was also broadcast over the Internet.

The event is part of the president’s strategy of using many different outlets to communicate his message to the American people. In this NewsHour segment, Jeffrey Brown talks to media experts and a historian about Mr. Obama’s strategy.

Aside from the groundbreaking online forum, Mr. Obama has also appeared on ESPN to fill out his predictions for the NCCA men’s basketball tournament, given two primetime news conferences and appeared on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

The experts discuss the aim of this multi-layered strategy and how Mr. Obama is focusing on fostering a sense of public participation with his White House.


“He promised transparency. He promised accountability. He promised a new kind of communication strategy. And what you saw today was over 3 million people coming online to help select the questions he would answer – hence, they feel that they’re part of this event in a unique way – and over 100,000 people who phrased questions. That’s a very important use of interactivity to reinforce that message with a core audience.” – Kathleen Hall Jamieson, Pennsylvania University

“The concept is the same: the idea of a president practicing what Woodrow Wilson called government by advocacy, FDR with the fireside chats or John F. Kennedy with his mastery of televised press conferences.” – Richard North Smith, George Mason University

“Holding this town hall today and taking those questions online and Web-casting it, incredibly important for showing the American people that you’re willing to meet their expectations and communicate to them through their medium of choice.” – Julie Barko Germany, George Washington University

Warm Up Questions

1. Have you seen President Obama on television lately? Where?

2. How important is the Internet to your daily routine? Is it more important than television? What kinds of things do you do online?

Discussion Questions

1. Why is President Obama appearing on all these media outlets? Why do presidents have a media strategy?

2. Does it matter to you that President Obama took questions from average people? Why or why not?

3. Do you think President Obama is really more transparent or is he just trying to look like he is open to the public? Explain your answer.

4. Do you think more politicians will follow President Obama’s lead? Should they?

5. Write down at least one question that you would ask President Obama if you could.

Additional Resources

Read the transcript

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