Thursday, January 22, 2009

No, We Can't. President Obama Retakes Oath, Excluding TV and Media

Not ten minutes into the Obama administration and there's controversy. Chief Justice John Roberts "screwed up" a line in the oath of office of the President of the United States when swearing in President Barack Obama this past Tuesday. President Obama retook the oath as an "abundance of precaution," as White House counsel Greg Craig described, Wednesday night in the privacy of the White House. No reporters or media were allowed.

That last line's the kicker. CNN had a hullabaloo last night over the fact that media were not permitted inside to broadcast or record the event. It was unfathomable to some of CNN's evening crew that they were not invited to document the not-quite-so-historic second oath (it's happened twice before with Presidents Coolidge and Arthur). Only a White House photographer was permitted.

It's just the opinion of this writer, but this should not be a big deal. Is it not enough to report the news? Must we have television footage and rolling tape to qualify a report as "news"? There was a time when people read the newspaper - and nothing else - to get information. Clearly those times are changing - "Death of the Newspaper" - yet I think most Americans will feel content in knowing that President Obama retook the oath.

In fact, the Constitution dictates clearly that President-elect Obama became President Obama at noon on Tuesday, with or without the oath. Thus, a do-over wasn't even necessary. Better safe than sorry to be sure, but it was not a moment of magnitude like that of the previous day. The enormity and significance of the "Presidential Do-Over," as one Yahoo! News headline reads, pails in comparison to the news value of inauguration day.

So I say to CNN and all of the scorned TV news execs: "Quit yer whinin'!" The reporting from Tuesday's inauguration was fantastic; filled with images, sounds and moments that are now part of history. Don't belabor this insignificant issue and take away from what you (the media), we (the American people) and President Obama have accomplished this week.


You want some actual quirky post-inauguration news? Hillary Clinton Seen Mouthing Along to Presidential Oath - it's tough to let go, ask President Bush.

For the record...

Official oath of office of the President of the United States:
"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States faithfully, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Presidential Inauguration Coverage 2009

The inauguration of President Barack Obama today symbolized a shift in our society. A shift in governmental policy, political ideology, national power, and, as much as anything, a shift in the creation, distribution and relevance of user generated news and information.

Couldn't be there for the historic presidential inauguration today? No worries. Information documenting the inauguration was everywhere in a flash. Photos were uploaded to Flickr, videos were added to YouTube, and podcasts were updated on sites across the web, before, during and after the inauguration. Twitter was a roar rather than a "tweet," with people from around the world updating millions of others with personal accounts of the historic day in 140 characters or less.

Internet users can view the path the Obamas took to the inauguration, follow the inaugural parade route, and see D.C. landmarks in 360-degree panoramics with the "street view" function on Google Maps. In addition to education and communication, the internet and technology have closed the geography gap to some degree.

Live videos were being streamed by national media like CNN, MSNBC, FOX News, ABC, CBS - nothing new here - but also by bloggers and individuals who have no media background; only a camera and internet connection. Technorati search results for "inauguration" totaled 34,000+ blog posts, with more than 17,000 new posts in the past 48 hours.

Media are now acknowledging, or in many cases encouraging, the marriage of mass media and user generated content. Using Microsoft's "Photosynth" technology, some media are creating 360-degree panoramic images of Obama's inauguration and the events in D.C. from user generated images and photographs.

Capturing "The Moment" that Obama took the oath of President, CNN's 3-D images are online here.
MSNBC's "360-degree views of D.C." are here.

Can Joe the Plumber Blogger and others honestly have a voice in an event of this magnitude and historical significance? If I might borrow a line from our 44th President, "Yes, we can."


Addition to original post: Read The Huffington Post's article - The Audacity of the Presidential Inauguration Committee: or This Land is Whose Land?

Lest we think all mass media have seceded a fight for exclusivity and superiority, HBO secured sole TV broadcasting rights to the "We Are One" concert at the Lincoln Memorial this past Sunday, January 18, 2009. Way to share the live historical moment with the masses, guys.

See the archived "We Are One" video.