WhiteHouse 2.0: The Future Of Propaganda?

May 2nd, 2009 | By | Category: Audio Podcasting, Commentary, Internet TV, New Media Organizations, Podcasting, Streaming Video, Video

President Barack Obama is turning the White House into a leading example of how organizations can use Internet media and social networking.

In a post at the official White House Blog, The White House called its approach to the Internet WhiteHouse 2.0, noting its extensive new media and social media presence.

According to The White House, “WhiteHouse.gov is an important part of the Administration’s effort to use the internet to reach the public quickly and effectively – but it isn’t the only place.”

You can now find the White House all over the Web:

The White House is now creating and releasing an unprecedented amount of media.

Open Government, Or Propaganda?

Regardless of your political stripes, though, WhiteHouse 2.0 has to be seen, at least to some degree, as propaganda.

We’ve looked previously at how Obama used new media and social media to win the presidential election. A key part of his win was that he made sure that he had content everywhere, so that his team controlled his message.

McCain failed to do that, leaving a vacuum on the Internet. This meant that, instead of voters seeing pictures and videos that painted McCain and his campaign in a positive light, they found things like Sarah Palin’s interview fiasco.

If you take a look at The Official White House Photostream, you’ll see that, not only is The White House opening up an amazing collection of candid photographs, but that the images are cherry picked to put the administration in a positive light.

Some of the images are even grouped into a set with the propaganda-speak title Delivering On Change, It offers hundreds of beautiful photos of Obama and his team in action – in meetings, giving speaches, calling world leaders, flying on Air Force One – delivering on change.

Here are Barack and Michelle rolling up their sleeves, digging in the dirt, planting a tree and delivering on change:

Take a look at The White House presence on YouTube or iTunes, and you’ll see WhiteHouse 2.0 delivering a consistently open and positive media blitz.

WhiteHouse 2.0 is delivering on change – a change to George W. Bush’s approach to new media.

Do a Google image search for George Bush, and you’ll see what happens when you leave a media vacuum on the Internet:

The results are dominated by unflattering photos of Bush eating a kitten, flipping you the bird and just looking goofy.

WhiteHouse 2.0 Presents A Challenge To Content Creators

The new media blitz of Obama’s WhiteHouse 2.0 presents a challenge to bloggers, podcasters and vloggers.

Obama is serving up an unprecedented volume of new media. He’s putting it all over the Internet, making it easy to find. And he’s licensing it with the most liberal terms he can, making it easy to use, remix and mashup.

This puts indie new media publishers on similar footing as traditional media publishers. If you want to publish about Obama’s White House, you’ve got your choice of great photos, video and audio.

Great photos, video and audio that make President Obama and his administration look and sound good.

WhiteHouse 2.0 is the most powerful new media organization in the world.

What do indie content publishers have to do to avoid becoming part of the White House’s propaganda machine, like mainstream media did during much of George W. Bush’s presidency?

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No Responses to “WhiteHouse 2.0: The Future Of Propaganda?”

  1. Great blog post from Podcasting News, as usual. I do have one quibble, though.

    The criticism that the White House is using social media as a form of propaganda seems naive, at best. (To say nothing of the use of the word “propaganda” which is a loaded term but is virtually synonymous with PR and advertising, i.e. the selective use of facts to effect a change in attitude or perception.) The President as a symbol, Barack Obama as a man, the White House as a symbol as well as a place to live and work and the US Government all fall under the heading of “brand.” I’m not sure what the WH is doing that any other savvy brand manager would not do. They have a message that they are trying to deliver to their “customers” and they are picking an effective way to do it. Seems pretty smart to me. Sour grapes to see it any other way.

    The WH photostream on Flickr are “cherrypicked to present the administration in a positive light.” James, are you serious with that criticism? By that logic, Betty Crocker should post pictures of cakes that are flat on one side and where the icing is all messed up. It’s PR. PR can be defined as “the engineering of consent.” There will be PLENTY of people who will take the time to negatively manipulate the WH’s and POTUS image. In fact, as you quite rightly point out, but releasing all of these images, the WH is giving them the ammo to do just that.

    What is MORE significant, in my view, is that the Federal Government is actually adopting tools born in this century to communicate with us. The government has never really been known for being on the cutting edge of anything, other than waste, bureaucracy and status quo thinking. Candidate Obama, and now President Obama’s, informed use of new media is a boon to all of us who work in new media/social media and a welcome effort to engage the electorate. The Democratic party has no monopoly on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr. The RNC can just as easily jump on to spread their message, too. Everyone who reads your blog, I suspect, understands the power and reach of social media. Seems that our government does, too. I think this is cause for celebration and close observation.

  2. UPDATE: Seconds after making my earlier post about the RNC being free to use social media, too, LOOK at what I cam upon from Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-PA):

    Republican leader Eric Cantor appeared on CNN’s show “State of the Nation,” hosted by John King, and conceded that the GOP has “a lot to learn” from President Obama, especially regarding technology and reaching out to young voters: “President Obama is a great communicator. We understand that. He’s also been very adept at adopting the technology of today to access the youth vote and the younger population of this country. That’s the future, and I believe we’ve got a lot to learn.”

    Naturally, the only problem with his argument is the misguided assumption that technology is the sole province of the young. Baby steps, folks, baby steps.

  3. […] Whitehouse 2.0 – il futuro della propaganda? […]

  4. James Lewin says:

    Matthew – I agree with you that Obama’s administration is making very intelligent use of new media and social media. This is good for the government and it’s good for the state of new media.

    Whether you call it propaganda, PR or branding, though, it’s clear that the White House is flooding new media with filtered information and that it’s systematically tracking and measuring the results.

    Regardless of your politics, wouldn’t it be “naive” for us not to view this with a critical eye?

  5. Scott Bourne says:

    You can use words like propaganda if you want to create faux controversy or if you have an axe to grind with Demcrats or the President, but you certainly do NOT need “social media” to create propaganda. Bush did it with the help of Fox News Channel for eight years and that’s as old media as it gets.

  6. […] posted a link to Jim Hogland’s editorial about this very subject.  Today, I discovered this fascinating post about White House 2.0 and Propaganda that furthers the conversation.  Before discussing the […]

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