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« Downsizing the N&O | Main | The cresting wave »

Apr 29, 2008

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John Robinson

Generally speaking, I think the answers to your questions are yes, yes and yes.

Differing ethics among media organizations is not new to the age of citizen journalism.

In addition, our reporters occasionally attend meetings in which they are asked to leave when they are recognized or identified as newspaper reporters. It is a tribute to people's perception of the newspaper or of media in general that the other attendees never rise up and defend the reporter's right to be there.

Say a campaign aide had walked onto the stage yesterday and said, "Please put away your cameras, and turn off your recorders and cell phones. The content of this meeting is private. Anyone who intends to publish or broadcast any information regarding this fundraiser please leave now. That includes reporters, citizen journalists, diarists and bloggers." Do you think the crowd would have watched silently as a few people left or would they have protested? I'm thinking the former.

On the other hand, when I was in the Sistine Chapel last year there were signs everywhere telling visitors not to take photos. Uniformed officers roamed the crowd telling people not to take photos. Some used a laser pointer to shine in the camera lenses. None of that seemed to stop anyone from taking photos.

Kirk Ross

Blurry indeed. Went to the Obama rally at the Dean Dome last night and sat in some decent seats in the lower section. There were about five people around me recording it in one way or another.
The press at these events is really herded around. For my purposes it didn't matter that I was taking notes in the stands and I didn't have to show up hours earlier or spend the whole night to cover a forty-five minute speech.

Fec

Having my least and most fave editors in the same thread is too much for me to bear. As Dutton Peabody said to the young Scooter Sanders: "Tape everything."

Kirk Ross can attest that I sat through his ConvergeSouth clinic without uttering a single word.

Kirk Ross

I thought you'd just fallen asleep with your eyes open.

Anonymous

Reporting firsthand on the campaign trail in North Carolina, not only have I seen the campaigns try to have "closed" press events, but they have shut out some local media entirely from gaining first-hand access to candidates.

The campaigns, including the Obama campaign, has shut out some local media in post-speech question and answer sessions. One station told our reporter that they were not allowed in on such sessions during one particular Obama visit, but another one was. At another Obama stop, one local newspaper was allowed in for Q&A sessions, while another newspaper was actually told there was no Q&A session at all.

Clinton has been criticized for lack of press access, but I suspect that her access strategy changed when her campaign saw warning signs. McCain has open access on his bus, but seems to have a disdain for reporters when they ask tough questions.

From what I have seen, overall, none of the candidates have a coherent, organized, and consistent strategy for dealing with the press except to try and control them while disliking them at the same time. That does not bode well for the future of our country, whoever is elected.

Mark Binker

Ed:

This is not a big ethical conundrum. A national campaign rolled into town and held an event. They didn't credential media, so fine, we found another way to cover it. In this case, the path that made the most sense was to go.

In the past, we've had other fundraisers come into GSO where the guest list was more exclusive, and we got by with interviews of people who were there.

For me, it's more of a question of news value or potential news value. Clinton really didn't say anything new or different at this event. But at a Charlotte fundraiser, he national campaign chairman confirmed the Easley endorsement.

Another example: the whole story with Sen. Obama "bitter" comments came from a fundraiser.

This should be pretty simple for campaigns: If you come into town and make news, expect to be covered. If you don't credential, expect reporters to try to find a way to cover the event directly anyway. And if they can't, expect them to talk to folks who were there.

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