White House takes anti-drug effort to Web

Last week, the increasingly popular video hosting site YouTube.com (http://www.youtube.com) made an instant star out of 19-year-old actress Jessica Lee Rose, also known as LonelyGirl15. Now, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy is hoping to harness the site's influence to gain a broader audience as well.

The office announced today that it has begun posting informational videos at the site, including anti-drug advertising, drug policy announcements and other educational material.

'Over the past several years there has been an explosion in the number of Americans using emerging technologies to publish their views, learn about important issues and to communicate with each other,' said John Walters, director of ONDCP and the Bush administration's drug czar, in a statement. 'We know that in order to remain effective communicators in this new information age, public institutions must adapt to meet the realities of these promising technologies.'

This is not the agency's first foray into new media. ONDCP also runs a blog and a podcast. By contributing videos to the free site, ONDCP hopes to disseminate information about drugs, as well as show how the government is working to reduce the prevalence of drugs within the country.

The agency has certainly picked an outlet with a growing reach. YouTube.com, run by YouTube Inc. of San Mateo, Calif., has become a Web success story in its short life. Since its inception in February 2005, amateur filmmakers and other parties have uploaded more than 70 million videos to the site. Visitors watch about 100 million videos a day.

The mainstream media has taken notice of the site's popularity as well. The press has covered the controversy over the authenticity of LonelyGirl15's series of videos, and yesterday, the Warner Music Group Corp. of New York agreed to let YouTube.com display its vast collection of music videos.

Since last week, ONDCP has posted 12 videos on YouTube, including a press conference as well as a number of TV ads. Users can view the videos, add comments on each page that hosts the video, embed the videos inside their own blogs and Web pages, and even respond with their own videos.

About the Author

Joab Jackson is the senior technology editor for Government Computer News.

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