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If Obama Posts a Côte d'Ivoire Video to YouTube, Does Anyone Hear It?

BY Nancy Scola | Friday, April 1 2011

Last Friday, President Obama delivered the quick two-minute video message above on the struggle for power between Alassane Ouattara and Laurent Gbagbo in Côte d'Ivoire. "Now Côte d'Ivoire is at the crossroad, and two paths lay ahead," said Obama in the clip. It's been viewed 44,000 times on YouTube, and Jake Tapper wants to know, who actually watches something like this?

The White House tracks these things rather closely, I was told. First off, the message was used on television and radio, and the Ambassador reported back that the message had an impact through those more traditional media. In terms of views, the White House says there were 6,476 views in Côte d'Ivoire; 6.592 in France where there’s an Ivory Coast diaspora community, and 14,147 views in the US.

The White House also provided these screen shots showing some of the information they monitor.

(Click through for said screen shots, ones that give a peek at what the White House sees when it opens up YouTube insight to track the sort of traction their videos get.)

Of course, implied by the question is the notion that, well, 44,000 isn't a whole heck of a lot, and that these videos are rather niche, and maybe irredeemably so. Fair enough, maybe.

But one thing to keep in mind here is that all that's being counted is direct views. Not being captured is the ripple effect -- the clip providing fodder for, say, stories like this one by the AFP that uses what Obama has to say as direct quotes, or a Ghanaian website that uses the clip to flesh out a story running under the headline of "President Obama Sends Clear, Unambiguous Message to Cote d'Ivoire."

This isn't Obama TV, not really. There's a way to think about these sorts of things as Obama sort of having a micro press conference (sans questions) on a topic that isn't going to make it to air, or him issuing a colorful talking press release whose message has other channels for ultimately finding its intended audience.

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