The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

The first tech moment of the State of the Union happened before Obama started speaking


President Obama talked a big tech game in the lead up the the State of the Union address -- announcing proposals on data privacy, cybersecurity, an municipal broadband in previews the week before. But the first tech moment of the address came before he had even taken the stage, when the White House released the prepared remarks on blogging platform Medium.

The administration posted the speech directly online and shared links through social media a few minutes before the speech was scheduled -- roughly the same time it shared it with reporters.

Leaving the press out of the loop wasn't an accident -- it was a strategy.

There is a ritual on State of the Union night in Washington. A little before the address, the White House sends out an embargoed copy of the President’s speech to the press (embargoed means that the press can see the speech, but they can’t report on it until a designated time). The reporters then start sending it around town to folks on Capitol Hill to get their reaction, then those people send it to all their friends, and eventually everyone in Washington can read along, but the public remains in the dark.
This year we change that.
For the first time, the White House is making the full text of the speech available to citizens around the country online.

The White House is a relative newcomer to Medium, having joined in October 2014.