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Wag the Blog Redux: Obama's New Media World

We're way behind in our Wags, so wanted to play a bit of catch-up tonight.

In a recent Wag the Blog, we asked you to weigh in on the media strategy President Obama used at his second prime-time conference.

Traditionally, presidents call on reporters in the following order: wire services go first, networks and cable channels next and then the major national newspapers. Smaller outlets may get in a question at the end -- if at all.

Obama took a far different approach, however, calling on Univision, Stars and Stripes and Ebony magazine while shutting out the Post, New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today among others.

(Since we wrote, the New York Times' White House correspondent Helene Cooper has penned an ibnteresting piece about Obama's strategy at press conferences.)

We asked Fixistas to offer their take on Obama's shift in questioners -- does such a decision better serve the public and the administration or does it risk irritating major media outlets who he may not want to irritate, being that mainstream outlets often guide coverage of the presidency?

You'll find a rundown of the most insightful responses we received below as culled by post.com politics producer Sarah Lovenheim. Most of the comments suggested Obama's decision was long overdue -- that the mainstream media should no longer dominate press conferences. Here's the wrap:

Questions are More Important Than Questioners
"Sorry Chris, but nobody in the real world cares who asks the questions at a Presidential press conference. The public at-large only cares that the most pressing issues of the day are asked in such a way as to illicit a thoughtful and honest response from the President. That is ALL we care about." -- NMModerate1

Sign of the Times
"I think it's clearly a sign of the times...newspapers are on their way out. As a former reporter, editor and columnist it breaks my heart; but change is natural and was inevitable the day use of the Internet became mainstream..." --soonerthought

No Surprises: Decision Reflects Campaign Promise
"...Obama is a master of symbolism and of showing the American public in different ways that he does indeed follow through on his campaign themes. Acknowledging other media sources is just one more way of emphasizing his presidency's themes of diversity and inclusion of everyone." -- jrosco3

Puts Aside Privilege
"I think it is wonderful that President Obama is using a non traditional approach in who he selects to ask questions at the press conferences. For a long time, the bigger news outlets have been given preference/privilege, and while their voice is important, it is not the only voice that has an opinion. I think that President Obama has sent a clear message that all voices are important, different perspectives are valued, and that everyone is welcome at the table." -- smolock1

A Sure Way to Reach Overlooked Demographics
"I think it is very important to call on other media outlets, particularly ones that represent demographics which the traditional media outlets do not or can not represent... Univision, Ebony, and Star and Stripes have readerships and viewers that usually do not read the Post, the New York Times, or perhaps for that matter even the Washington Times. They do represent, however, demographics that often feel isolated from their government. President Obama's outreach to them is very important." jameshauser

Could Hurt Quality of Questions
"The fact that Obama called on lesser known media outlets was not only a way of kissing the back side of small demographic groups but also a way to look like he's nice to the little guy. Though it may help him, it may not help the American people because the questions asked may end up being less relevant to the broader public." --theobserver4

Smart Move: Mainstream Media Will Have Access Regardless
"Changing the mix of who gets called on in press conferences is a good thing. The major news outlets aren't being short-changed -- they are still in the room and they still have access to the President, his cabinet members and their staffs at other times." -- pam_leitterman

By Washington Post editors  |  April 6, 2009; 8:32 PM ET
Categories:  Wag The Blog  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Grading Obama's Trip
Next: White House Cheat Sheet: What's Next?

Comments

Gee Chris, re-write history much? What the arrogant question was : does Obama risk alienating the media's movers and shakers who set conventional wisdom for a presidency? Nothing about coverage, just the term set the conventional wisdom, which most posters responded to as arrogant of him.

Posted by: katem1 | April 8, 2009 9:14 AM | Report abuse

Gee Chris, re-write history much? What the arrogant question was : does Obama risk alienating the media's movers and shakers who set conventional wisdom for a presidency? Nothing about coverage, just the term set the conventional wisdom, which most posters responded to as arrogant of him.

Posted by: katem1 | April 8, 2009 9:14 AM | Report abuse

Obama loves the camera and the camera loves Obama... all we are missing is Lenny Riefenstahl...

Posted by: newbeeboy | April 7, 2009 5:04 PM | Report abuse

It's amusing how the 15 percent deadender neocons hate America so much that they must bad-mouth our President whilst he is overseas.

Just show their lack of class and their Treason.

That said, the only people who are upset at our President's media outreach are those who got too comfortable in the pole position. Ask about sports events that have nothing to do with the subject of the press conference, and don't expect to get called on first next time, right?

Posted by: WillSeattle | April 7, 2009 2:10 PM | Report abuse


king doesn't do his research that's all....
one article in a newspaper somewhere and his opinion is formed.
which, of course, we know what it is.....

wow kingster, those 2 million germans are calling him that? what article is that from now?
and britons....oh yeah......they didn't like him either.....
that Queen reaching out to Michelle showed us nothing, uh king????
jealousy is a deadly sin i think...

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | April 7, 2009 1:53 PM | Report abuse

Agreed, bradcpa. Anyone who spends half his life slandering the President in off-topic posts on WaPo open boards has got some sort of major deficiencies going on.

Posted by: nodebris | April 7, 2009 12:09 PM | Report abuse

You can always tell when someone has p*n*s envy. When the king_of_zouk says TelePrompTer President what he really means I wish we had a leader who is charismatic, can communicate and is wildly popular. The real problem for zouk and his cohorts is ideas... his ideas have failed and the American public knows it. Even Ronald Reagan could not sell those failed theories in today’s market.

Posted by: bradcpa | April 7, 2009 8:36 AM | Report abuse

the Germans declare him meek and inexperienced. Is it that obvious? Not to libs.

Posted by: king_of_zouk | April 7, 2009 1:13 AM | Report abuse

the Brits seem to have figured out Obama pretty quickly, calling him the "boring TelePrompTer president". He does go on.

Posted by: king_of_zouk | April 6, 2009 11:31 PM | Report abuse

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