In an attempt to ensure that his State of the Union speech resonates with young Americans, President Obama is going straight to one of young Americans’ most beloved online platforms: YouTube. Two days after his address on Tuesday, January 20th, the President will sit down with YouTube creators such as Bethany Mota (who graced our cover in September), Hank Green, and GloZell Green, for interviews that will be streamed live on YouTube.
It’s not the first time the White House has used YouTube to connect with young people. Last March he met with top YouTube influencers to advance the administration’s new health care plan. And after past State of the Union speeches, Obama has answered questions submitted via YouTube and Google+ Hangouts. This time, the White House presumably hopes to talk about the newly announced plan to make the first two years of community college free for students who maintain a 2.5 GPA. The idea has been met with skepticism in some quarters and calls for an estimated $60 million in new spending over 10 years.
The move shows how essential YouTube has become when it comes to engaging with young people, and how things have changed: Back in 1992, Governor Bill Clinton sat down for a 90-minute interview on MTV during the presidential campaign, which at the time seemed radical and forward-thinking. Today, the notion of anyone trying to reach young people via cable TV seems quaint.
It also shows how people like Mota, who gives beauty and fashion tips to her 8 million fans, are rapidly becoming much more than just niche personalities. As we noted in our cover story, Mota has an Aeropostale fashion line and was a contestant on Dancing with the Stars last year.