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12/2/2008
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San Francisco Mayor Turns To YouTube For State Of The City Speech

In the great tradition of the long-winded politician, Mayor Gavin Newsom's annual address exceeds seven hours of online video.

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom has turned to YouTube to offer his constituents the "unfiltered" version of his State of the City speech -- all 7-1/2 hours of it.

To make the address more palatable, the mayor has broken up the speech into 10 segments, each about 45 minutes long. Different segments will be released each day through Friday. The first segments ran on Monday.

Newsom, who is known as a policy wonk, told the San Francisco Chronicle that he and his press secretary, Nathan Ballard, came up with the idea in September while fooling around with a video camera during a Washington business trip. The goal is to lay out the mayor's plans for such issues as universal health care, education, the budget, battling crime, ending homelessness, and making a greener city -- without the filtering of the media.

"We have a lot we want to share, but it gets filtered," Newsom told the Chronicle. "To do an address that's unfiltered, what better way to do it than on YouTube?"

Newsom isn't the first politician to turn to YouTube in taking his message directly to the people. Others include President-elect Barack Obama and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

Newsom is unlikely to win any prizes for production quality. The mayor, wearing a suit and his trademark blue tie, delivers his speech standing in front of a flat-screen TV that shows slides related to the topic being addressed. The entire speech was taped in one sitting at the city's new Academy of Science planetarium. The videos are being shown on Newsom's own YouTube channel.

When asked whether he expected anyone to watch all 450 minutes of the speech, Newsom told the newspaper, "The good news is no one has to. For those that don't want to, don't."

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