August 1, 2008
The Fireside Chat Vs. the Podcast

i wanted to give a quick link today to another couple of pieces I wrote or collaborated on recently that I thought might interest some Consortium blog readers. First, Peppercom co-founder Steve Cody and I recently ran a piece in BusinessWeek entitled "The Fireside Chat Vs. the Podcast".

The piece looks at how FDR's use of the radio for more personal communication to the citizenry revolutionized the way national government spoke to the country in the 1930s and how the Internet has introduced myriad new opportunities that the government has taken little advantage of so far. In our editorial, we look at the current economic downturn, ways in which the Internet would allow the government and corporations alike to more efficiently communicate with the public about their decisions, and the general need for more transparency in national government decision-making.

We write:

But what happens once one of these candidates is elected to office? What would be the modern equivalent of the fireside chat? How can tools like LinkedIn and YouTube be used to provide a more transparent government? [ . . . ]

The White House today continues the weekly radio addresses pioneered by FDR and offers regular press briefings, weekly e-mail updates, and occasional Presidential press conferences. However, the information conveyed here lacks in both depth and accessibility when compared to the information supporters are inundated with by Presidential campaigns.

Perhaps the most promising title on the White House's official site--"White House Interactive"--leads to a question-and-answer section, with the most "recent" question dated Mar. 26, 2007. The question: "George W. Bush is what number as President of the U.S.?" Talk about useless information.

I'd love to hear any feedback you might have about the piece, either here or over on the BusinessWeek site.

Sam Ford is a research affiliate with the Consortium and Director of Customer Insights with Peppercom. He also writes for PepperDigital.