CHICAGO (AP) — This isn’t your grandfather’s fireside chat.
President-elect Barack Obama plans to tape a weekly address not just for radio listeners, as presidents have for years, but for YouTube Internet viewers, too.
Well, what else would you expect from a president born at the tail end of the baby boom?
Connecting the White House hearth to the American home, Franklin Roosevelt talked to the people through the radio, with crackling broadcasts delivered near a crackling fire. John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan mastered television. For Obama, who built a big part of his campaign on the Internet, it’s YouTube.
About 75 years after Roosevelt used a new medium to reach out during troubled times, the president-elect is doing the same with Web videos.
Obama was recording a four-minute address Friday at his transition office in Chicago. It will be posted Saturday through a YouTube link on his transition Web site, http://www.change.gov. And he will continue to do the videos when he takes office on Jan. 20.
And he won’t be the only one in his administration taking a starring role online.
Transition leaders and policy advisers will also appear in videos on a regular basis, Obama spokeswoman Jen Psaki said. Other officials, such as Cabinet members, could also take part.
President George W. Bush hasn’t videotaped his radio addresses for online viewing as Obama plans to do, the White House said. YouTube wasn’t around when Bush came into office, though podcasts of his addresses are available on iTunes, and the audio is posted on http://www.whitehouse.gov.
The Saturday radio addresses were initiated by Reagan and have evolved into a weekly fixture of the presidency, accompanied by a response from the party out of power.
Still, relatively few people actually hear them on the radio, and Obama is hoping to reach many more with what his transition team calls a ‘multimedia opportunity.’
The videos are part of the team’s effort to build on a campaign model that helped Obama reach millions of voters online during the presidential race. It’s a potentially powerful electronic tool in new digital outreach effort aimed at supporters and others interested in being connected to the activities of the Obama White House. The Web site and videos allow him to bypass the traditional media and reinforce his message online.
On the campaign trail, Obama promised to use the Internet to make his administration more open and interactive, offering a detailed look at what’s going on in the White House on a given day or asking people to post comments on his legislative proposals.
The transition team plans to use videos to keep people posted on developments as Obama prepares to take the oath of office, Psaki said.
A two-minute video of Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett is already on the Web page. In it, Jarrett discusses recent staff decisions and the ethics policy in place for the transition.
‘We’ll be back frequently to give you updates,’ she tells watchers.
(This version CORRECTS that Obama born at tail end of baby boom, instead of first post-baby boom president.)