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When I first heard that President-elect Barack Obama would be using online video to distribute his weekly addresses, I was excited. It's great to see that he wants to engage the nation across both video and audio. I assumed that the videos would be posted to the <a href="http://www.whitehouse.gov/">whitehouse.gov</a> and <a href="http://www.change.gov/">change.gov</a> websites.

Allen Stern

November 14, 2008

2 Min Read

When I first heard that President-elect Barack Obama would be using online video to distribute his weekly addresses, I was excited. It's great to see that he wants to engage the nation across both video and audio. I assumed that the videos would be posted to the whitehouse.gov and change.gov websites.However my excitement turned to disappointment when I learned that it seems YouTube will be the official distribution point for the videos. I posted a comment on Friendfeed last night about my disappointment and there was a lively discussion about the YouTube postings. So far, every TV media outlet has pointed to YouTube as the outlet for the videos. It won't matter if the "official" viewing location is on a .gov site, if the videos are on YouTube, this is where they will be viewed and shared.

My issue with the YouTube selection is around fair competition. I'd prefer that the videos not be embeddable and be offered online only on the whitehouse.gov and change.gov websites. If they are going to use online video hosting services as an outlet, I'd like to see a full RFP process take place. All video hosts who want to host the weekly videos should have an equal chance of winning the government contract. For the people who believe that the videos are on YouTube for "two-way communications", comments are disabled. CNET Editor-in-chief Dan Farber has a good analysis of the YouTube selection. He notes, "In the case of uploading video, the Obama team can create its own branded, video-sharing service neutral video player that allows anyone in the world to embed the content. That might be a more equitable way for Obama to spread his message, and he could still have a YouTube channel." At the end of the day, it's great to see Obama using new media channels to spread his agenda and provide transparency into his office. Now let's remember that there are other choices besides Google on the market.

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