Last month, I had this to say in Crikey about Howard’s use of YouTube for policy announcements:
More generally, Howard is using YouTube similarly to his manipulation of talkback – announce the policy, avoid the press conference and the hard questions. The youth/new media angle also reinforces his attempt to refocus his image towards that of a strong, decisive leader, and to deflect criticisms that he is aging and out of touch.
Social media is Howard’s 21st century talkback radio. He can both amplify his message and control its reporting.
Over at Club Troppo, Nick Gruen reproduces a Crikey story from Richard Farmer which builds on this argument – the government are now using both radio “messages” and YouTube to highlight their message unmediated (as the feed is picked up directly for re-broadcast) and escape even the limited accountability you might get from talkback radio (interviewer, questions, no matter how soft). So YouTube isn’t just the new talkback for the Howard spinmeisters, it’s the talk without the back. If you thought that they took comments on YouTube seriously, you’d be seriously kidding yourself. There’s a heavy dose of irony here – new media praised for their interactivity and accountability are being used by political spinners to shut out interactivity and accountability.
Howard’s on YouTube spinning APEC. And comments are disabled with a moderation filter. So far none have gone through.