In the January 25 edition of The New Yorker, Ken Auletta’s Annals of Communications column provides a fascinating glimpse into the role the Internet (the author refers to it as the “third party”) is playing in how the White House press corps covers the President and, in turn, how the White House works with the media.
He reminds us that only six years ago, when George W. Bush was finishing his first term, there was no Facebook, Twitter or YouTube and that regional newspapers as well as television stations were profitable enterprises.
To whet your appetite for reading the column, Auletta describes a typical working day for NBC White House correspondent Chuck Todd who, when his day is over, will have done eight to sixteen interviews for NBC and MSNBC (grassy area where he stands with the White House in the background is nicknamed Pebble Beach) PLUS eight to 10 tweets or Facebook postings and three to five blog entries. Whew! Todd says he is “compelled to do more reporting on my Blackberry.”
The column also describes that Politico.com “is the most prominent face of new media at the White House.” In existence since 2006, the site draws more than three million unique visitors each month, making it the ninth-largest newspaper online. While traditional media have curtailed their travel budgets, Politico.com has had a reporter on nearly every one of the President’s domestic and overseas trips.
Finally, the column also details the relationship the President and his Administration have with the media and the impact Obama believes the Internet has on its coverage. He told Bob Schieffer on a recent CBS “Face the Nation” show that “…what is different today is that the twenty-four hour news cycle and cable television and blogs and all this, they focus on the most extreme elements on both sides. They can’t get enough of conflict. It’s catnip for the media right now.”
Regardless of your politics, or if you are a journalist, PR professional or some other occupation, the article is a good read and offers glimpses into a world most of us will never be a part of firsthand.