By: Devin Riggs, Regular Contributor
For the past five years Google has hosted an interview with the President after his State of the Union Address. Some years, questions could be submitted online. Other years more recently, the questions came from a Google+ Hangout with a group of chosen interviewers.
This year three successful YouTube creators and personalities were chosen to grill the Commander in Chief on the policies he outlined in his speech and the issues facing their respective audiences right now.
When Hank Green announced he would be interviewing the President along with Bethany Mota and GloZell Green, I was excited. Google did a great job choosing individuals who had different backgrounds and represented large diverse audiences. You couldn’t ask for much more.
The mainstream media were not impressed. Weeks before the livestream interview even aired, shade was thrown: This isn’t “real” journalism. These people don’t know what they’re doing. They aren’t qualified. It’s a cop-out! Sacrilege!
Apparently, haters gonna hate hate hate.
The hate didn’t stop after the interview either. While some reports were pleasantly surprised at the professionalism and solid questions, others were not so gracious. A few networks like Fox News kept playing clips of GloZell’s video where she swims in a bathtub filled with milk and cereal while they declared the interview “was beneath the dignity of the office.”
Heaven forbid real life people with strong opinions and diverse experiences get the opportunity, the privilege, and the right, to sit in front of the President of the United States and ask him about what matters to them and their audiences.
Heaven forbid American citizens get the opportunity to take charge of how they interact with the leader of our country without the middleman journalists there to filter the information to fit their agenda.
Heaven forbid we choose to forgo watching the news networks that spew biased information at us and claim it is for our benefit.
How dare we ask for more from our media outlets.
The truth of the matter is mainstream media has lost its touch. It’s losing its credibility. In reflecting on the experience, Hank talked about how a lot of traditional news is filtered through specific biases. These biases control the way we consume and deliver information. And for the youth generation especially, it puts the legitimacy of that information into question. So millennials are seeking other options, including YouTube where authenticity is much more prevalent.
Here’s the thing. I didn’t watch the State of the Union Address, which is broadcast on every major television network and followed by reporters and politicians analyzing every issue. But I did watch President Obama sit down with Hank, Bethany, And GloZell because I knew they were in my corner. I knew they were advocating for me. I knew they weren’t going to let the President off easy. They weren’t going to sugar coat issues or twist his answers to fit some hidden agenda.
All three interviews were real. They weren’t perfect, as the media will be quick to point out. They were honest. At times they were funny. They were insightful, thoughtful. And I learned a lot about the current state of our union.
In a recent chat with my sister who is very active in her state and local government we discussed the instantaneous two-way unfiltered connection between a Youtube creator and his/her audience. A trust is built there that is not replicated with traditional news sources, because traditional news sources have written off the entire generation as lazy, apathetic, and easily pushed aside. This dynamic could come back to haunt them my sister says. “They are poking a bear with a stick” and some day soon they are going to wake up to find they have absolutely no ground to stand on because that bear turned 18 and is registered to vote and is fed up with people not taking them seriously.
It’s plain to me that Obama cares about my experiences, and those of my peers, because, unlike the media, he is willing to listen. He is sitting down with people who I relate to, who I trust, who I admire, and he’s having the conversation. I think that’s pretty damn awesome and is definitely not beneath the dignity of his office.
Thank you Hank, Bethany, and GloZell for putting the time and effort and care into your questions.
And thank you, Mr. President for listening and reminding me, despite what mainstream media would like me to believe, I do matter.
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Devin has a degree in education with a focus in English. She is working to publish her first collection of poetry while also learning the art of patience. Her passions include Doctor Who, penguins, hats and scarves, potatoes, dancing, photography, and making people happy. She believes in the healing powers of music, spending time in the great outdoors, and a good night sleep.