Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Far fewer news reporters hit campaign trail with the presidential candidates for long stretches of time this year. Is that necessarily a bad thing?

American Journalism Review looks at how the current reality of the news business resulted in changes this year on the campaign trail:

A political reporter not covering politics from the campaign trail? Political journalism legends such as Theodore H. White, author of "The Making of the President" books, would surely raise an eyebrow. But during the 2008 campaign, "the trail" never seemed less important – or perhaps it was just less populated. Although a definitive headcount is hard to come by, the number of reporters traveling with the candidates during this election cycle appeared to be down considerably. Major regional newspapers, such as the Houston Chronicle and Cleveland's Plain Dealer, didn't bother to staff either campaign. USA Today, the largest-circulation paper in the nation, had only irregular representation, as did campaign stalwarts like Time and Newsweek. In fact, only five dailies – the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and Chicago Tribune – kept reporters on the road with Sens. McCain and Barack Obama in the campaign's closing months. The TV networks were still there, too, but most relied on young "embeds" rather than their frontline correspondents until the last few months.

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