Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Like it or not: State of the Union more accessible

President Barack Obama's State of the Union speech is tonight at 9 p.m. EST. The annual address by the president to the United States Congress is a big deal.

It is an opportunity for the president to share his game plan for the nation. He hits on topics that are important to the public. He may also do what leaders should do — take a leadership role to push forward an issue that he feels needs to be addressed.

Every year there is much debate about the State of the Union. Sunday's talk shows were filled with lots of back and forth about the State of the Union. The Republicans will provide a response following the president's remarks. Newscasters will analyze the number of applause and ovations given during the speech.

This year, several politicians spurred by Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado will mix it up and sit next to someone from across the aisle. Traditionally, Republicans sit with Republicans and Democrats sits with Democrats. I think Udall has a great idea and a number of congressional leaders have stepped up to say they will sit together.

For some, the State of the Union is the same old politics as usual and not worth wasting two hours of their lives to watch it. It's also a time to flip over to cable channels, because your regular network programming has been interrupted by the president's speech.

 News junkies like me may find some of the ways the White House is involving the public in the conversation interesting. The White House blog on Jan. 21 mentioned multiple ways that individuals can watch the speech and ask questions about it. No press corps ID required. This is technology and interaction at its best. There is a State of the Union page.

The fun continues through Thursday:

  • After the president's speech, you can ask White House officials questions via Twitter, Faceboook and online. 
  • On Wednesday, you can Tweet questions to Press Secretary Robert Gibbs before he holds his post-State of the Union press briefing. 
  • On Thursday, the president will answer questions live on YouTube.
  • On Thursday, policy experts will answer questions at various times throughout the day — topics on the economy at 11:30 a.m. EST, foreign policy at 1 p.m. EST, education at 3:15 p.m. EST and health care at 4:30 p.m. EST. 

These events really go a long way to get people involved and to keep people informed.

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