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Obama Stages First Virtual Townhall March 27, 2009

Posted by Joanne KY Teoh in Civic Media, Convergence, Journalism, News, Reviews, Social Media, Trends, Web Video.

Just as he reinvented electoral politics, US President Barack Obama is using the Web to reinvent the presidency. Part politics, part American Idol, Obama seized the bully pulpit today and reprised the best of his acclaimed campaign skills in a digital townhall from the White House — something never done before.

Click image to view townhall
Open for questions: Obama at the White House taking questions from the public in his first virtual townhall.

Declaring, “This isn’t about me, it’s about you,” the US leader made a direct sales pitch for Americans to support his broad and expensive assault on economic hard times.

He took questions asked from a pool of more than 100,000 sent to the White House Web site as well as from the audience of about 100 that was on hand for the event at the presidential mansion.

Read and answer: Mr Obama looks over a question submitted via the Internet

The online town hall had an amazing feel of something that had never been done before, and something we should be trying to do more of.

The White House Blog.

White House officials have been making great efforts to have Obama reach outside the traditional media filter. As a candidate, the President was adept at using the Web to raise money and build a grass-roots movement that delivered the presidency. Now in power, he’s using the Web again to speak directly to Americans.

What we’re seeing is a concerted Obama recent PR foray in support of his assault on the current financial crises. The Internet questioning dovetailed with the president’s key projects: health care, better education and energy independence.

The US leader has staged two in-person town hall meetings in California. Now the promise of the Web makes jetting around in Air Force One to stage town halls around America seems so last year. Besides, it’s environmentally incorrect.

Not unlike American Idol, this digital townhall lets ordinary folks take part in politics and shape the outcome. Besides, the 100,000 questions submitted form a significant number of e-mail addresses for future outreach and the next campaign.

Obama’s Web-savvy approach to the presidency is already being cast as Obama 2.0. His video address to the Iranians may not have impressed the theocracy in Tehran. But by taking the presidential fireside chat into the virtual world, Obama has indeed brought the mountain to Mohammad.


1. jon - March 29, 2009

does anyone know who provided the live flash streaming service for the white house? was it vbrick?

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