James McPherson's Media & Politics Blog

Observations of a patriotic progressive historian, media critic & former journalist


  • By the author of The Conservative Resurgence and the Press: The Media’s Role in the Rise of the Right and of Journalism at the End of the American Century, 1965-Present. A former journalist with a Ph.D. in journalism, history and political science, McPherson is a past president of the American Journalism Historians Association and a board member for the Northwest Alliance for Responsible Media.

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Nothin’ but ‘Net’: Obama, the Web and the White House

Posted by James McPherson on November 10, 2008

Barack Obama won the presidency in part because his campaign used the Internet so well to raise money and connect with supporters. As a senator, he sponsored the law that meant any of us could see online where many of our federal tax dollars are being spent.

Now Obama is taking the presidential transition to the Web, with a new Internet site. A lot of talking heads have been discussing how this presidency could be a tranformational one in the same way that Ronald Reagan’s was, because of its effect on the youth vote. Young people who voted for Reagan tended to continue voting Republican. Democrats obviously hope that young Obama voters will stay with their party.

So far, Obama is doing the right things to keep those voters. How he performs after moving into the White House, of course, will matter most. For my part, after seven years of Bush/Cheney secrecy, I am encouraged by glimmers that Obama favors more openness in public policy. But I also know that Obama ran a tightly controlled campaign, and presidents tend to be bigger fans of secrecy when it’s their own secrets they’re keeping under wraps.

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5 Responses to “Nothin’ but ‘Net’: Obama, the Web and the White House”

  1. I’ve heard talk that Obama may be taking the Internet push a step forward by changing the president’s radio address, which has become, at least in the last decade, an archaic way of addressing the nation, to an Internet address. I should be slapped on the wrist, but I’ve never once tuned into a station just to hear the president’s radio address, but it’s not out of lack of interest. I listen to the radio when driving, mostly conservative talk news, because, sadly, that’s all we have to pick from here in Yahoo-ville South Carolina, but not once have I been able to catch the address. Segueing it from radio to the Internet would be a way to reach a much larger bloc of people using a more universal medium, which would be consistent with Obama’s already tested and proven method of drumming up votes, funding and support: the Web. Thanks for the post.
    – J.

  2. James McPherson said

    I agree, Jeremy–that’s a good idea. Internet addresses could be more easily made visual (and posted on YouTube, along with the White House Web site), could include links to key items such as legislation referenced within the talk, and could be easily catalogued for later research/reference.

    Perhap I also should be slapped, but in fact, other than by accident, the only way I’ve ever heard the president’s radio address is by searching for it after the fact via the Internet and listening on the computer–and only then if I’d heard or read elsewhere that something interesting came out of it. Thanks for the comment.

  3. Gerry Redd said

    I am all for the net being a central point for information, especially as it relates to the complex operations and decision making processes in our government. I applaud this step in the right direction, but I think that everyone has lost site of the issues and the “changes” that our government is undertaking. I’m all for the “net”, but not for the “changes” that are coming. Just take a look at the website section “America Serves” (http://www.change.gov/americaserves/) and tell me what images this conjures up. If anyone requires a point of reference, open your history books and have at it.

  4. […] History, Journalism, Written elsewhere by James McPherson on November 14th, 2008 A few days ago I noted that Barack Obama had used the Internet better than any candidate before him. In the comments […]

  5. […] [5] https://jmcpherson.wordpress.com/2008/11/10/nothin-but-net-obama-the-web-and-the-white-house/ […]

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