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Congress / Technology

YouTube Town Hall an Alternative to the Real Thing

(NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

August 17, 2011

If the Internet teaches us anything, it's that reaching out to the maximum number of people doesn't necessarily require the maximum amount of effort.

Sure, lawmakers could travel around promoting their messages, spending time and money to get their message to reach dozens of voters. But, why not skip the poorly air-conditioned, lightly attended, and hard-to-get-to event spaces when you can do it all from the comforts of your own office?

This is what the YouTube Town Hall offers members of Congress, and the site has already been viewed more than 1.3 million times.The setup is simple: Two lawmakers with contrasting policy views offer separate videos, and then viewers can vote on which one they support. The parties of the online speakers are not immediately identified to viewers in an effort to overcome political bias and allow the viewers to focus on the policy questions.

The results continue to roll in, but already patterns have emerged. By far, the most viewed topic is the economy, videos about which have been viewed more than 645,237 times. The next most viewed topics are energy (261,119), Afghanistan (244,739), education (90,578), and immigration (60,616).

 

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