White House Sends Its First E-Mail, on Health Care Reform
By Jose Antonio Vargas
Obama's WhiteHouse.gov has sent its first e-mail.
"You are receiving this email because you signed up at WhiteHouse.gov," began the 355-word e-mail which landed in our inbox at 3:36 p.m. EST from President Obama. The subject line read, "Health care news worth sharing."
"My staff and I plan to use these messages as a way to directly communicate about important issues and opportunities, and today I have some encouraging updates about health care reform," the e-mail continued.
Nearly two weeks after unveiling its presence on Facebook, MySpace and Twitter, the White House's new media team sent the e-mail to its growing list Wednesday afternoon. In the past few months, visitors to WhiteHouse.gov have signed up to get e-mail alerts, and online political observers have been awaiting the sending of its first e-mail. During the campaign, Obama amassed an e-mail list of 13 million addresses -- by far the biggest in Washington. That list is now being used by Organizing For America (formerly Obama for America), which is housed at the Democratic National Commitee. WhiteHouse.gov's e-mail list, though growing, is not as large as 13 million, a source inside the White House said.
The e-mail reads partly like a news release, updating people on the status of health care reform. But, in a nod to the personal, just you-and-me tone of e-mails sent by presidential candidates, and particularly by Obama, during the campaign, the note is littered with the pronouns "I" ("Monday, I met with some of these health care stakeholders, and they pledged to do their part to reduce the health care spending growth rate," it reads) and "we" ("We'll continue to keep you posted about this and other important issues").
"This is a part of building a new type of relationship between the president, his administration and the public," Macon Phillips, the White House's new media director, told The Post. Asked how often the White House will send e-mails to its list, Phillips said, "we plan to us this tool as another way to keep the public updated on our efforts and how they can play a part."
The e-mail is urges people to direct others who may want constant updates on health care reform to http://www.whitehouse.gov/EmailUpdates. That's a sign of the social networking age we're living in. An e-mail, even from WhiteHouse.gov, can spread. And, there's a P.S.: "If you'd like to get more in-depth information about health reform and how you can participate, be sure to visit http://www.HealthReform.gov."
It's only fitting that Obama's first official e-mail from the White House is about health care reform. As early as December, the incoming Obama administration began using new media tools to build grassroots support around the issue.
This is one in a series of online columns on our growing "clickocracy," in which we are one nation under Google, with e-mail and video for all. Please send suggestions, comments and tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted at 4:30 PM ET on May 13, 2009
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