Feeding the Media Beast

Rich Galen

Just back from about 10 days on the road with the Thompson announcement bus tour and we had a bunch of national and local media with us every step of the way.

And the press corps has to be fed every step of the way.

They have to be fed in the traditional sense, which is to say the campaigns (and this is the same for all the major campaigns – Republican and Democrat) provide food for the press but each individual is billed for his/her share. They are also billed for their share of the bus or van, their share of any costs involved with renting a meeting room for them to work out of, etc.

The “feeding” I’m talking about here has to do with feeding them information.

In the olden days, when the press corps was a bunch of guys who smoked too much, drank too much, and would sit around the bar at night eating fried stuff and drinking whatever, they had to file once a day. Morning newspapers have a first deadline of something on the order of 7 PM.

In that same time the three networks had to have any footage from the campaign put on an airplane and shipped to LA, Chicago, New York or some such so the film could be processed, edited, and readied for the evening newscast.

Still photographers would throw their film into mesh bags which would be picked up by couriers and, similar to the TV film, be airlifted to the nearest facility of the AP or UPI or whomever.

All of this demanded that whatever news the campaign was going to make on any given day be made NLT (not later than) about 2:30 pm.

The times, as Bob Dylan told us four decades ago, have a’changed.

In addition to MSNBC, CNN, FNC and the other 24-hour cable news channels, this cycle has added … The BLOG!

Reporters now are not just filing for their paper or wire service or TV network. Now, they are also filing for The BLOG!

The demands of The BLOG! outstrip just about everything else reporters and the campaign staff who deal with them have to manage.

The BLOG! is, by definition, a random filing at random times and is of a random length – this, as opposed to MULLINGS which comes out (more or less) three times a week at the same time and is of standard 750-ish word column length.

The problem with The BLOG! is that campaigns have to come up with new stuff to give reporters for their BLOG! outside of, and in addition to, the regular stuff.

Some campaigns are beginning to stack up tidbits to hand out, like Greenies to the Grand Dog, sometime after lunch so reporters have something for The BLOG!

Any BLOG! is mostly read by other bloggers and other reporters but the big deal is to have something you have written for your BLOG! show up in a standard newspaper or as an item on a cable news show.

Whether this will have any lasting influence is yet to be determined, but it is certainly having an impact in the 2008 cycle.

Oh, and, now at least half the press corps is female and both genders prefer salads and veggies with their Pinot Grigio in the restaurant at night.

Talk about ch’er impact!


Rich Galen, columnist

Copyright ©2008 Barrington Worldwide, LLC


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