Obama's Media Machine: State Run Media 2.0?


Obama's 'State Run Media 2.0'

LaMarre and other political communication experts say the Obama White House is continuing the policy started by President George W. Bush, who famously vowed to "go over the heads of the filter and speak directly to the people," and capitalizing on new media and social media to do so more easily than ever before.

The White House has amassed 1.9 million followers on Twitter, 900,000 fans on Facebook and averages 250,000 visits to its YouTube channel per month. Its website received roughly 1.1 million unique visitors in January, according to ComScore.

By contrast, ABC News has 1.2 million followers on Twitter, 150,000 fans on Facebook, and averages 21.7 million unique visitors per month to ABCNews.com, according to ComScore.

"What you're seeing on the Internet is transparency at its finest," said Earnest, the White House spokesman. "We are giving citizens across the country direct access to decision makers in the government."

Earnest said the effort to build and engage an online audience was intended to supplement the independent press, not supplant it.

And while critics might disagree, there's plenty of evidence to suggest that some Americans might not care.

"If Nixon had announced he was going to start the 'Nixon channel' and said they were only going to put up stuff he approved of, people would have said, 'Oh my God, this is like Communist Russian state media,'" said David Perlmutter, director of the University of Iowa School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

"But now social media have a friendly face on them, so these media tools are not seen by the public -- particularly younger Americans -- as some sort of power grab by the president or government," he said. "They're just modern ways of reaching out and communicating."

Perlmutter says what he calls "state run media 2.0" might be just what younger generations, who polls show are disillusioned with the mainstream press, are looking for. And, he said, satisfying their "need to feel connected" could give Obama the edge among tech-savvy voters heading into the next campaign.

"They want to ask the questions themselves, post questions on the White House blog, tweet the president or Robert Gibbs directly," he said. "They don't think, 'Oh my gosh, this is bypassing an important filter of information.' They don't care about the filter."

ABC News' Peter Roybal contributed to this report.

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