What's next for the Obama movement?

Social-networking and other forms of new media played an important role in the Obama campaign. The NYT today looks at what might be ahead for the "Obama movement," or what it calls a YouTube presidency:

His aides — including his campaign manager — have created a group, Organizing for America, to redirect the campaign machinery in the service of broad changes in health care and environmental and fiscal policy. They envision an army of supporters talking, sending e-mail and texting to friends and neighbors as they try to mold public opinion.

The organization will be housed in the Democratic National Committee, rather than at the White House. But the idea behind it — that the traditional ways of communicating with and motivating voters are giving way to new channels built around social networking — is also very evident in the White House’s media strategy.

Like George W. Bush before him, Mr. Obama is trying to bypass the mainstream news media and take messages straight to the public.


The White House also faces legal limitations in terms of what it can do. Perhaps most notably, it cannot use a 13-million-person e-mail list that Mr. Obama’s team developed because it was compiled for political purposes. That is an important reason Mr. Obama has decided to build a new organization within the Democratic Party, which does not have similar restrictions.

And concerns, similar to those expressed when the White House released its own photo of the president's second take at being sworn in, rather than having the news media document that rather important moment.

The approach is causing some concern among news media advocates, who express discomfort with what effectively could become an informational network reaching 13 million people, or more, with an unchallenged, governmental point of view.

“They’re beginning to create their own journalism, their own description of events of the day, but it’s not an independent voice making that description,” said Bill Kovach, the chairman of the Committee of Concerned Journalists. “It’s troublesome until we know how it’s going to be used and the degree to which it can be used on behalf of the people, and not on behalf of only one point of view.”

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