Open House Not Just White Noise

13 February 2009

Earlier this week, I had my first browse through the White House Web site and thought it was a good signal of how the new Obama administration is likely to change the way the White House communicates to the American public.

 

The active integration of new media tools is not surprising given how the Obama campaign harnessed communications technology and social media  from the start , although adapting to White House infrastructure has posed some challenges – as Obama spokesman Bill Burton told the Washington Post, it was “….kind of like going from an Xbox to an Atari.”

 

In addition to regular background information, press releases, statements and agenda items the site features a blog which is frequently updated and links to Obama’s weekly video address.  Most interestingly perhaps, the Web site lists the White House agenda on key policy issues such as economics, healthcare and technology. This promotes transparency and holds the administration accountable to what they set out to do and in some cases contains some very tangible metrics, particularly in the area of energy and the environment.

 

A key objective on President Obama’s technology agenda is to “… ensure the full and free exchange of information through an open Internet and use technology to create a more transparent and connected democracy”  and the administration seems to be taking active steps in that direction.

 

But a comment made by a friend who is a foreign correspondent here during a recent dinner party also got me thinking about a potential flip-side to this development. He said that he had found the Obama campaign and, to date, the Obama administration, less accommodating towards the press than the Bush administration or other campaigns, and attributed it to the fact that they weren’t as reliant on journalists to reach key target audiences. 

 

The growth of online communication tools is having a dramatic impact on the media landscape as all of us working in the field can see. This can lead to new and exciting opportunities for those of us working in PR, as Bill McIntyre of Grassroots Enterprise noted in a recent article that was published in PR Week.  However, in a democratic society, the press plays an important role in maintaining balance between state, business and societal interest – in part by asking tough questions and filtering information. Care must be taken to safeguard that role.

 

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One Response to “Open House Not Just White Noise”

  1. Collective Conversation » Tech & The District » Blog Archive » Open House Not Just White Noise Part 2

    [...] up on my blog posting last week, it seems like more commentators are starting to raise questions about the Obama’s administration [...]

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