Kitchener man to tweet from White House during PM Trudeau's visit

Taylor Jones said he was surprised but pleased when he was invited by the White House to join the #WHSocial group on the south lawn to watch as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is welcomed by President Barack Obama.

‘I had no idea they would actually choose me,’ photographer Taylor Jones says

Taylor Jones, left, and Alex Marshall will be off to Washington, D.C., Thursday. Jones has been invited by the White House to join others involved in social media to attend the arrival ceremony of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. (Andrea Bellemare/CBC News)

A meeting between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Barack Obama this Thursday will be a historic one, and Kitchener's Taylor Jones will be on the south lawn of the White House to witness it.

The local photographer, tweeter and Instagrammer saw a tweet from the White House looking for people outside of the U.S. to be part of a social media savvy crowd for the arrival ceremony, which will include Trudeau and his wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau.

"I had no idea they would actually choose me," Jones told The Morning Edition host Craig Norris on Monday. "I'll be closer than I've ever been to a prime minister or president."

Jones, who is well-known for his Dear Photograph website and book, said he will be mere meters away as the two world leaders meet ahead of a state dinner that night - the first for a Canadian prime minister since 1997.

Social media outreach

In mid-February, the White House put a callout to people who use social media - such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and SnapChat - to be at the arrival ceremony.

Jones said he is impressed with how the American and Canadian governments have embraced social media.

"With what the White House is doing right now, where they're inviting people who are active online and connecting with their channels, and inviting them to events like this, it's so 2016, right? Just because you're active on social media you get an invite to the White House whereas, like, 10 years ago, you would have said that, people would have lost their minds," Jones said.

U.S. President Barack Obama, right, and Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, left, stand to shake hands following their bilateral meeting at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Manila in November. (Susan Walsh/The Associated Press)

He also said the White House hasn't placed any restrictions on what he can post for his followers to see.

"I think anyone there is probably under the impression that they need to do the proper thing," he said.

Trip will be documented

Jones, who had to cover his own costs for getting to the U.S. Capital, will be flying down to Washington, D.C., on Thursday morning. Alex Marshall of George Briggs Media will be with him, documenting the trip. They plan to create a story of Jones' experience to share with others. Marshall will not be allowed on the south lawn because he was not invited.

"It's a once in a lifetime experience and [I'm] really going down for a day and seeing what it's like when you go to the White House," Marshall said.

The pair will need to be at the White House early Thursday morning, long before the arrival ceremony will begin, to ensure Jones gets a good spot in the area where other social media invitees will be.

And while he was invited down to share his experience online, Jones said he will also take some time to be in the moment.

"I'm not just going to be on Twitter and Facebook the whole entire time. I'm going to make sure I actually see it with my own eyes," he said.


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