Over the past few months I’ve become more and more impressed with the videos on the White House YouTube channel. The President’s Weekly Address is almost a stalemate of my weekends. His explanations of Healthcare reform or assessments of the economy are both engaging and informative.
There is currently well over 400 videos on the White House YouTube channel. These collectively have amassed over 2.2 million views. The channel has 80,400 subscribers, with viewers coming from many different countries depending on the topic e.g. the President’s Message to the Iranian People was ‘most popular’ in Iran.
While the number of viewers has been decreasing over the past few months, it still remains the most viewed political channel on YouTube and far more popular that similar international initiatives from the UK or EU.
The five most viewed White House videos have amassed nearly 5 million YouTube hits. These videos include:
- President Barack Obama’s Inaugural address – 1,281,063 views
- 1/24/09: Your Weekly Address – 1,163,256 views
- Lower Quality Version: President Obama Speaks to the Muslim World from Cairo, Egypt – 614,761 views
- The President’s Message to the Iranian People – 612,576 views
- President Obama Speaks to the Muslim World from Cairo, Egypt – 586,653 views
It’s not so much the formal speeches or policy announcements that are what attracts me to the White House videos; Rather it’s the informal behind-the-scenes clips that are most interesting. These provide an insight into the White House and the President, not normally seen on TV news bulletins. They – along with the other new media activities from the White House – provide greater transparency on the activities of the institution, and serve as a platform upon which to build greater trust with the American public.
I’ve embedded my five favourite videos below. They’re all short clips, but I hope demonstrate a side of President Obama and the Administration not often seen through traditional media.
The video below is the first in a series of “Inside the White House” videos that will be appearing on WhiteHouse.gov. It shows the President reading letters from ordinary citizens. He reads 10 letters from the Public every day and the video provides a behind-the-scenes look at the process of how those letters make it to his desk. It also provides short interviews with White House staff involved in the distribution of thousands of letters, faxes, and e-mails that are received each day.
Mike Kelleher (Director, Office of Correspondence) describes how they get 65,000 paper letters, 100,000 e-mails and 1,000 faxes each week. This is combined with 2,500 – 3,500 calls per day, and highlights what a huge task it is to distill this into 10 letters each day.
Other behind-the-scenes videos provide an insight into the President’s day-to-day interactions and other less newsworthy activites at the White House. These include:
- White House interns reflecting on their experiences
- The White House Easter Egg Roll
- The President chatting to Willie Mays, grilling with Bobby Flay or taping the audio for Disney’s Hall of Presidents or the Colbert Report
It’s rare that TV news bulletins or newspaper articles delve into the personality of President Obama, or provide an insight into how he interacts with people. I think the video below demonstrates how at ease he is conversing with others and taking an interest in what they do.
Some of his personality is reflected in other videos including the dunking of Senior Advisors, playing basketball with the Lady Huskies, reading to children and working with the Super Bowl Champion Pittsburgh Steelers. The sight of the President having fun and enjoying himself is something not often seen in press conferences or his Weekly Addresses.
Setting the facts straight
The current debate on Healthcare reform has provoked fiercely passionate arguments on both sides. Unfortunately, the facts of the proposed reforms have often been held hostage to inaccurate portrayals of proposed legislation. The video below refutes many of the scare tactics employed by those against reform.
The White House has sought to defend its position through a series of videos to the American public. The Reality Check videos debunk many of the myths and propaganda surrounding Health Care reform. Allegations of ‘Death Panels’ and the rationing of Healthcare are all dismissed in this series of interviews with those involved in Health care policy. Often the videos are a response to questions from anxious citizens attending health care town hall meetings across the country. It’s important the White House refutes these allegations and explains in simple language the facts of proposed reforms.
The montage below highlights the excitement and enthusiasm expressed by the people of Ghana during the President’s tour. It is narrated by extracts of the President’s speech interspersed with African music. Overall, it’s a really nice clip of what looks like a colourful and welcoming reception in Accra.
The video below sets out succulently the benefits of the new Credit Card bill of rights. What I like about this video is the language Mr. Goolsbee uses. When referring to credit card contracts he describes the frustrations of many Americans: “I’ve a PHD in economics, but I can bearly read these things’’. He outlines some of the activities of these companies as ‘evil genius’. This kind of plain talking is refreshing and demonstrates how in tune the White House is to the concerns of ordinary citizens.
Other videos include Peter Orszag describing the benefits he gets from reading blogs and the rational for setting up the OMB blog. He explains how he wants the blog to clarify misconceptions and confusion surrounding the activities of the Office of Management and Budget.