YouTube has announced a new series on content for political candidates, called Spotlight. Candidates will be able to ask the YouTube community a question and monitor comments and video responses sent in from users. They'll then get a chance to respond to the group discussion later in the week. The goal is to provide an open forum for users to know candidates a little better, and for people to ask questions directly--an option that's historically been out of reach (outside members of the press or those involved in campaign events). The project is also taking advantage of a wide audience with YouTube's staggering user base and demographic of 18- to 55-year-olds.
The first politician on the hot seat is Republican and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, with a 1-minute video titled "What Do You Believe Is America's Single Greatest Challenge?" There will be new politicians each week, leading up to the primaries.
YouTube's blog is currently recommending that users get "thoughtful and creative" with their video responses, although without basic moderation requirements, things could get a little out of hand. In contrast, MySpace's candidate solution is a little more glossy, with edited candidate pages and resyndicated campaign promotion material. That is, until the service's mock primaries in January.
It will be interesting to see who's up next.