Reporting From the Campaign Trail

March 2004
Nieman Reports;Spring2004, Vol. 58 Issue 1, p4
This section introduces a series of articles about political reporting in the U.S. In his essay Only a Lunatic Would Do This Kind of Work, David M. Shribman, executive editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, captures the essence of what motivates political journalists. Walter R. Mears reported political news for 45 years, nearly all of them for the Associated Press. Having retired and written the book, Deadlines Past: Forty Years of Presidential Campaigning: A Reporter's Story, Mears observes the political cycle's coverage. John Harwood, political editor of The Wall Street Journal, first experienced a political campaign when he accompanied his father, Richard Hardwood, also a political reporter, in 1968. When David Yepsen, political columnist for The Des Moines Register, looks at reporters' analysis, he often wishes they had spent less time following candidates and more time learning from voters. Michael Tackett, the Chicago Tribune's political editor, describes how technology is transforming the coverage of politics for reporters. Mark Seibel, who directed The Miami Herald's review of the disputed Florida ballots in the 2000 presidential election, explains why reporters should be focusing not only on what happens on the campaign trail but also in the voting booth, where changes in technology are creating potentially unreliable balloting systems.


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