Political Reporting Happens Faster: But Is It Better?

Tackett, Michael
March 2004
Nieman Reports;Spring2004, Vol. 58 Issue 1, p22
This article offers insights about the changes in political reporting in the U.S. as of March 2004. When David Broder covered his first presidential campaign in 1960, he typed his story using a manual typewriter, then searched for the nearest Western Union office to send it. After two decades, technology has transformed the coverage of politics for reporters, however, not necessarily for the better. Presently, reporters who do not have an Air Card, wireless-fidelity device, and a Web-enabled cellular telephone are considered behind the times. With wireless access, reporters can get rapidly to the rich resources of the Web. With constant access to email, instantaneous responses to what one candidate has said arrive from other campaigns in time to be part of the story. Speed certainly does not equal depth. As reporters are called upon to write for their paper's Web sites or to do interviews for television or radio broadcasts, they spend less time reporting the kind of stories that bring greater meaning to potential voters. In some ways, technological change benefits reporters in how they manage to do their jobs. In addition, technology is changing the culture of campaign reporting. Many presidential campaign cycles have been the showcases for some form of transformative technology.


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