For campaigns’ traveling press corps, social media has changed way game is played

“Once we got to the Internet/cable-news cycle, really in 2004, there was no capacity to control” the message, said Dan Pfeiffer, the White House communications director. “I leave it to others to judge if the power has gone from us to the reporters. I don’t know that, and it probably depends on the day, but among the community of reporters, the difference between the A-Number One political reporter and the embed-off-camera producer, that distance has shrunk dramatically.”

That is just fine for the new wave of reporters and the zero-to-60 Web publications to which they belong. “It’s more competitive,” said McKay Coppins, a young reporter for BuzzFeed, an outlet that prides itself on knowing what people want to read and share on social media.

Until January, when it hired the reporter and blogging pioneer Ben Smith as its editor in chief from Politico — the belle of the past cycle’s ball — practically no one in politics had heard of BuzzFeed. Now, its reporters are on the Obama and Romney campaign buses, receiving respect and attention from the most senior campaign officials. “If you are some old-school newswire reporter who, along with six other guys, used to write the entire election narrative, it stinks,” Coppins said. “But it’s a great time to be a young reporter.”

Presumptuous? Maybe. The New York Times as an institution, and some of the gold-plated names of political journalism — such as The Washington Post’s Dan Balz, the National Journal’s Ron Brownstein — still shape big-picture conventional wisdom. And to the extent that there are still a few reporters on the planes with experience covering previous presidential races and sifting through spin, that perspective can’t hurt. —The Washington Post.

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