Obama planning digital media career after leaving White House, say reports

On Monday 24 April, Obama will attend an event at the University of Chicago to talk about civic engagement and youth leadership.

Outgoing US president Barack Obama is mulling over a career in digital media and is even considering launching his own media company when he leaves the White House, say reports.

After eight years as the world’s most high-profile politician, Obama has spoken to aides about the possibility of a career in the media industry, it has been revealed.

During his time as president, Obama used social media to engage with his millions of followers on Facebook and Twitter, and even produced his own short-form web videos, regularly posting to YouTube. The 55-year-old Democrat has been speaking recently about the faux news phenomena, complaining that some news is “ramping up divisions”.

Although a report carried by Mic does not speculate on the exact direction Obama would take in his post-presidential career, they say that “multiple sources” had confirmed he was considering moving into the media industry.

The report suggests that Obama had even discussed the creation of his own media company and that he was so serious about the idea, he met privately with Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg at an APEC summit in Lima, Peru, to deliberate the matter.

The report, written by Mic editor-in-chief Jake Horowitz, cites White House communications director Jen Psaki, who told Mic in a statement: “While the president will remain actively engaged in inspiring young people and he is interested in the changing ways people consume information, he has no plans to get into the media business after he leaves office.”

Obama has spoken of his plans to ‘sleep and go on vacation’ when he finally leaves office before setting up a ‘presidential centre’ that will aim to empower “the next generation of leaders”. And in an interview he gave to Rolling Stone magazine he said he wanted his centre to consider: “How do we rethink our storytelling, the messaging and the use of technology and digital media, so that we can make a persuasive case across the country?”.

According to a recent BuzzFeed study, fake news stories about the recent US election out-performed real news stories on Facebook in the crucial final three months of the race to the White House. The analysis found that the 20 top-performing fake news sites generated 8.7 million shares, reactions and comments compared with the 19 major news websites generating 7.4 million.

In a speech he gave at the University of Pittsburgh on 13 October this year, Obama conveyed his frustration at the way fake news is reported by some outlets. “There has to be, I think, some sort of way in which we can sort through information that passes some basic truthiness tests and those that we have to discard because they just don’t have any basis in anything that’s actually happening in the world”.

Former Democrat vice-president Al Gore launched Current TV in 2000, a cable news network, that he ended up selling to Al Jazeera for a reported $500m (£392m) in 2013. Donald Trump has also been reported to have an interest in launching his own ‘Trump TV’ network.

U.S. President Barack Obama
U.S. President Barack Obama holds a press conference at the conclusion of the APEC Summit in Lima, PeruReuters

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