Tuesday, October 21, 2008

President and the Media

Pres. George W. Bush, originally uploaded by echobase_2000.

It's been nearly two years since President Bush visited Grand Island, and eight years since Pres. Clinton came to central Nebraska.

Each time I was fortunate to cover the event on the news.

Without fail, when a president, vice-president, or even a big time candidate comes to town, everyone wants to know if I got to meet them, and interview them.

It might surprise you that presidents, and those seeking the office don't give many interviews.

And when they do, they're with the likes of Charlie Gibson and Katie Couric, not Steve White of NTV News. Somehow the White House doesn't seem to understand the value of small market TV. Go figure ;)

In this campaign, I know Sarah Palin's done high profile interviews with the news anchors I listed previously. But did you know she's been more available to the press than McCain, Obama, or Biden?

That's what a CBS reporter on the campaign trail says.

For all Palin's jabs at the mainstream media, she's been as accessible as any one as of late. That surprises me. I haven't seen that reflected in the coverage. Could just be that her ticket's down in the polls. But I can tell you reporters following her appreciate it.

Getting back to the point that candidates don't give interviews very often, think about the soundbites you see on the evening news.

Most often they're lines taken from stump speeches. Reporters consider themselves lucky if the candidate stops at a coffee house or ice cream shop. Because then the horde of assembled journalists might be able to ask a couple of questions in a more informal setting.

So when the next president visits Grand Island (and I hope he does!) I'll be there. But don't expect me to score an interview. Even the press corps that follows day in and day out doesn't get that. Sure there's the occasional press conference, but mostly they fly on planes from one speech to the next.

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