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The Explainer: Goolsbee White-Boards the Job Numbers

BY Nancy Scola | Tuesday, October 19 2010

Professor Goolsbee has upped his game in this, the White House's second installment in its nascent White House White Board online video series.

Goolsbee, the chair of the Council of Economic Advisors, explains in his dulcet Texas tone what the economic numbers show about American job loss and job growth. "You've probably been hearing a lot of back and forth on the economy, and it can be hard to sift through," says Goolsbee by way of soothing introduction. "So what I wanted to do today on the white board is take a step back and just talk about where we've been over the last three years in the U.S. economy." In his last go-round at the dry erase board, on the Bush tax cuts, Goolsbee's performance was marred by the fact that it was difficult for the average viewer to keep straight what the blue and red bubbles were supposed to represent. This time, everything's tidy and clearly labeled, and Goolsbee shows a performer's knack for walking the viewer through the material -- Recovery Act, tax cuts, other legislative moves made by Obama -- slowly but with a surety of purpose.

The version of the job chart first posted on Speaker Pelosi's blog back in February

This White House White Board series is yet another attempt by the White House to use new media to shape the debate, and the question remains, who's watching? Is it worth the bother in this heated pre-mid-term election season? Goolsbee's first attempt has been viewed through YouTube about 47,000 times since it launched three weeks ago, but that number is misleading; the White House uses a custom video player to host the video on its site, and offers folks the chance to use it, too. This is a new product, and as such, the White House is tweaking it. For one thing, at four minutes this video is twice as long as the first, and feels less rushed.

One other note, on the subject matter of Goolsbee's lesson. The White House, here, has spotted a good idea and run with it. This job loss and job growth bar chart Goolsbee is making use of to show the impact of the Obama administration's economic policies is nearly identical to one that Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office created and slapped up on its "The Gavel" blog back in February, right down to the use of red to mark the Bush years and blue to indicate the Obama ones. Since then, the humble job chart has taken on a life of its own, popping up as everything from printable fliers and Twitter avatars from Organizing for America to, now, the centerpiece of a White House explainer video. (See "Making Sure Everyone in America Has Seen that Pelosi Jobs Chart.") Democratic Washington is energetically engaging in a bit of free-culture-esque reusing and remixing.

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