11:26 am Jan. 2, 20122
According to the Greater Des Moines Convention and Visitors Bureau, there are some 1,500 of what they call "media visitors" in Iowa right now, attracted by the run-up to the Iowa caucuses beginning formally tomorrow.
In this extended preseason to the actual primary, it hasn't been much easier for the media to get a grip on the story than it has for the candidates: surging second-tier candidates have to be taken seriously until they don't; Mitt Romney looks set to pull away from the field until, time after he time, he doesn't.
For better or worse, the caucuses tomorrow will produce an actual result, kicking off the process of narrowing the field down to a single challenger.
And media outlets now must begin to contend in earnest with the rigors of the Campaign 2012 roadshow. What follows is a list of who's covering what in 2012 for a bunch of different news organizations we wanted to find out about. It's not a complete list, for a few reasons.
One is that not all news organizations responded to our inquiries or were willing to confirm who was assigned to what; we're hoping they'll change their minds, and we're working on them, as well as trying to dig some of this up on our own; but in the meantime, if you know who's covering what on the campaign beat at a place we haven't got covered please let us know.
The second consideration is that we started with a list of national and New York news organizations. (We're a New York website after all.) This is where we're getting a lot of our campaign reporting, but we're planning to add organizations to this list as we find out more and hear from you.
Third, not all news organizations plan their coverage the same way, so it's not always easy even for them to explain who's doing what on the 2012 elections. Major magazines can make big campaign hits and determine the destiny of a campaign without ever putting boots on the ground on the campaign trail; we wanted to know whose job it is to write those, too, at the publications we are all reading around here.
It's also not a final list, because as the campaign twists and turns, there are inevitable reassignments. If the G.O.P. field doesn't have an early breakout candidate, you can expect later primaries to get more coverage and more candidates to have more reporters covering them; if, say, Mitt Romney is the clear lead after New Hampshire, you can expect things to wind down.
It's already happened in some places: The New York Times had reporters assigned to the campaigns of Newt Gingrich (Trip Gabriel), Herman Cain (Susan Saulny) and Rick Perry (Richard Oppel) but has dwindled down its individual campaign assignments: Ashley Parker is still covering the Mitt Romney campaign, but the rest of the team is just reporting generally on the whole field. That's not to say that they're not doing the most work where they know the most: Gabriel's bylines still do seem to focus on Gingrich, for instance, even if that's not officially the assignment.
(That in itself will be interesting to watch: How good an indicator of a campaign's health is a news outlet's continuing allocation of reporting muscle to covering them individually?)
We'll keep updating, adding to and subtracting from this list, with your help, we hope. You can click on my byline for a few ways to reach me directly, or give us a shout in the comments below.
SOME BROAD NOTES: THE 1,500 MEDIA folks in Iowa this year represent a 40 percent drop from 2008, when "media visitors" were counted at 2,500, a fact that The Des Moines Register relates is mostly because there is only one party primary this year. “The major networks won’t need two camera crews to cover both Democratic and Republican caucuses,” convention bureau marketing director Tiffany Tauscheck told the paper.
But how media are organizing their coverage of the 2012 election isn't just a matter of the number of candidates: Other numbers matter. Like each of the organizations' bottom lines for 2011, and what they've meant for their spending plans for 2012.
In the case of The Huffington Post, for instance, which just got a big infusion of cash with the company's purchase by AOL, and which has more than doubled the number of topic-verticals it publishes in just that time, there's also an increase in reporting staff dedicated to the elections. On Election Day this year, the company announced a program it called “Reclaim 2012.” According to a press release, the plan "leverages the company’s unique combination of real-time news, opinion, video, and community; a 24/7 liveblog; upgraded Pollster, Fundrace, and social media monitoring tools; and hundreds of citizen journalists contributing through OfftheBus." But the "citizen journalists" this year are joined by a team of, well, real reporters, part of a hiring program the site has initiated in order to become a player in the professional journalism game.
On the television side, a new crop of anchors and correspondents developed since 2008 are on the scene in 2012 without their elders necessarily leaving the anchor desks, making some teams seem larger. Rachel Maddow will be the main anchor in Iowa for MSNBC, but Chris Matthews will not be long off your screen either; you'll see Wolf Blitzer and Anderson Cooper on CNN, but Erin Burnett's joining them.
Some organizations not often thought of as aggressive reporters on the campaign trail are beefing up this year, too. Bloomberg has been beefing up its non-business coverage over the last year; while there aren't big plans for a reporting outfit, "the company plans to cover the 2012 presidential campaign heavily and will spend lavishly at the party conventions," they told Newsweek in November. Rival newswire Reuters, meanwhile, is assigning nearly twice as many reporters to the election as they had in 2008, a spokesperson told Capital.
Some places that aren't necessarily known for consistent coverage of national politics beyond the occasional large feature story are going granular on politics this year in light of the election; in late November, New York magazine, whose website has always been more of a national than a local title, launched a politics vertical; this year it hired Jonathan Chait from The New Republic as a regular online writer.
Other places already in the business of national political reporting relaunched or retooled their online offerings in advance of the election: Witness the development of NBCpolitics.com.
In print, The Wall Street Journal, which has become more broadly political under its News Corp. ownership than when it was still a Bancroft family newspaper, has started a full page for politics in its Saturday print editions including "rich-data graphic" and a "Poltical Play of the Week"; a spokesperson pointed us to continued development of its Elections page online, where they will work on polling data in a partnership with RealClearPolitics (as they did last election season). More data crunching can be found in an online feature they're launching called "Politics Counts" where Dante Chinni, founder of PatchworkNation.com will crunch political data for the site's Washington Wire.
But not all the news is about expansion: Almost a year after Newsweek's merger with The Daily Beast, the newsweekly has canceled its special election issue, a longtime feature of the magazine.
Overall, it's clear that this election season won't be the making of any news organizations, large or small, established or emerging, as it has in some previous presidential election years.
For one thing, all the primaries are on the Republican side, and early on seemed to favor two candidates whose media operations were themselves either minimal, unstable or at times even nonexistent: Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich. It's hard to mobilize a large reporting team around candidates who keep changing their schedules, hold many events without making any accommodation for press and whose numbers in the polls zigzag all over the place, leaving media organizations to take a shot in the dark about where to allocate resources to find the candidates whose stories have a chance of lasting.
That is, of course, is not stuff that anyone directing the coverage will tell you about 2012; it's just what reporters and editors say amongst themselves.
Compare all this to the campaign of 2008 that pitted three media jockeys—Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards—against each other in a battle among some of the most aggressive and accomplished and successful campaign managers of the last couple of decades, and you can see why the press has a slightly hard time finding its bearings in 2012.
You will see in the list that follows that some news organizations have simply decided not to do what many have done for decades: Assign a reporter or two to each primary candidate, and pile them on the winner as the candidates winnow away and the campaign season gets bigger and newsier (with some reporters reassigned as necessary or sent back to home base to consider new beats, for better or worse.) Instead, there's lots of "reporters" writing about "Republicans," and others about Obama, for the most part.
Then partly it's not about the candidates but about how controlled campaigns have become. The game of hitting the button first on a story that everyone is watching live on television is not where anyone is going to find a competitive advantage. Access is so controlled, there is so much "pool reporting" (where one outlet volunteers to cover an event and distribute notes to the other news outlets), that there is a marked increase in heavily strategized "enterprise" and "investigative" and "feature" desks covering the elections.
"To the degree there is a change," New York Times political editor Richard Stevenson told Capital, "it has less to do with us having some new gimmick or anything as it does with a recognition that the actual campaigning has become so controlled and access to candidates has become so limited.
"Our real added value comes not necessarily just in traveling around with candidates and reporting what they say but in really digging deeply down into … the nexus of power and influence and money and strategy and character that really drives campaigns, defines who candidates are and what kind of president they would be. It takes a big and aggressive news organization to ferret out and present it to readers."
So, here's the list. Let us know what to add, and what changes as the campaign progresses.
The New York Times
Except in the case of Mitt Romney, the Times currently does not have reporters assigned to specific Republican campaigns, but rather has a deep bench covering the field. Coverage of Obama's reelection is handled largely by reporters already covering the President.
Jeff Zeleny: Assigned to cover the Republican field.
Jim Rutenberg: Republican field.
Ashley Parker: Assigned to cover the Mitt Romney campaign.
Trip Gabriel: Republican field.
Richard Oppel: Republican field.
Susan Saulny: Republican field.
Jackie Calmes: The White House; Barack Obama.
Helene Cooper: White House; Obama.
Mark Landler: White House; Obama.
Nicholas Confessore: Campaign finance.
Jeremy Peters: Campaign media and advertising.
Michael Barbaro: Features on the 2012 campaign.
Jodi Kantor: Features.
Sheryl Stolberg: Features.
Deborah Sontag: Features.
Mark Leibovich: Republican field.
The Washington Post
The Post hasn't assigned specific beats within the 2012 campaign story, a spokesperson said; rather its entire political team is on the 2012 beat. The focus of the political blog, The Fix, centers almost entirely on 2012 (including both the presidential and important statewide and statehouse races).
Chris Cilliza: The Fix.
Aaron Blake: The Fix.
Rachel Weiner: The Fix.
Dan Balz: General.
Karen Tumulty: General.
Nia-Malika Henderson: General.
Philip Rucker: General.
Amy Gardner: General.
Sandhya Somashekhar: General.
The Wall Street Journal
The paper appears to be one of the few national newspapers that is extensively assigning reporters to individual campaigns, though beneath that threshold the national political reporters are covering the whole map as a group.
Patrick O’Connor: The Mitt Romney campaign.
Sara Murray: Mitt Romney.
Doug Belkin: Newt Gingrich.
Danny Yadron: Rick Perry.
Neil King: General.
Brody Mullins: General.
Alicia Mundy: General.
Elizabeth Williamson: General.
Janet Hook: General.
The Associated Press
The A.P. assigns reporters to specific primaries and then has a team of reporters assigned to the Republican field without specific campaign assignments. In addition there is a dedicated beat on finance and media, and one reporter assigned specifically to the Obama re-election campaign, with the balance reporting generally on Obama and the White House during the election season. For now, it looks like this:
David Espo: Special correspondent covering the presidential campaign.
Tom Beaumont: The Iowa caucuses; Republican field.
Steve Peoples: The New Hampshire primary; Republican field.
Kasie Hunt: The Republican field.
Philip Elliott: The Republican field.
Shannon McCaffrey: The Republican field.
Charles Babington: Analysis, features on the topic of the 2012 election.
Beth Fouhy: Campaign media and advertising.
Jack Gillum: Campaign finance.
Ben Feller: The White House; Barack Obama.
Ken Thomas: Barack Obama campaign.
Julie Pace: Barack Obama.
Jim Kuhnhenn: Barack Obama.
Erica Werner: Barack Obama.
Reuters is running a full-time staff out of its Washington, D.C. bureau to cover the elections. There are nine staffers in that group, plus three "enterprise" campaign reporters band a campaign enterprise editor; 12 senior reporters based in Boston, Miama, Chicago and Los Angeles cover the campaign when it comes to their regions, as needed. Stringers are attached to campaign headquarters, including Barack Obama's in Chicago. Up to 20 Reuters America journalists who contribute when campaign events and candidates turn up in places like Arizona and Texas. (Reporters take note: They're on the lookout for a reporter to cover campaign finance.) In addition, four correspondents are assigned to Iowa with two more arriving just before the caucuses; staffing is expected to be similar in New Hampshire later this month.
Steve Holland: General.
John Whitesides: General.
Sam Youngman: General.
Patricia Zengerle: General.
Deborah Charles: General.
Andy Sullivan: General.
Sam Jacobs: General.
Jeff Mason: Barack Obama.
Mark Hosenball: Campaign enterprise.
Marc Stern: Campaign enterprise.
Kristina Cooke: Campaign enterprise.
Television works a little differently of course: You need stuff to film, so it's much more closely tied to the events of the campaign. You'll see that in the way the report is broken down among reporters.
Jim Acosta: Campaign events.
Joe Johns: Campaign events.
Shawna Shepherd: Embedded in South Carolina.
Rachel Streitfeld: Embedded in New Hampshire.
Shannon Travis: Embedded in Iowa.
Peter Hamby: Floating campaign coverage.
Jessica Yellin: Barack Obama.
Brianna Keilar: Barack Obama.
Dan Lothian: Barack Obama.
John King: Select campaign events; Florida and New Hampshire primaries.
Candy Crowley: Campaign events, caucuses and primaries.
Lisa Desjardins: CNN Radio
Bob Costantini: CNN Radio
NBC News and MSNBC have not assigned the top correspondents to specific Republican candidates, though reporters have been embedded with all of the campaigns since the fall and others are embedded with early primary states (with more, presumably, to be announced as the primaries progress). Two correspondents will be assigned to the eventual Republican nominee to lead coverage of that campaign.
Chuck Todd: The White House, Barack Obama.
Kristen Welker: The White House, Barack Obama.
Mike Viqueira: The White House, Barack Obama.
Peter Alexander: The Republican field.
Ron Mott: The Republican field.
Ron Allen: The Republican field.
Andrea Mitchell: The Republican field.
Kelly O'Donnell: The Republican field.
John Yang: The Republican field.
Peter Alexander: Republican nominee.
Ron Mott: Republican nominee.
Garrett Haake: The Mitt Romney campaign.
Jamie Novogrod: The Michele Bachmann campaign.
Carrie Dann: The Rick Perry campaign.
Alexandra Moe: Iowa; the Newt Gingrich campaign.
Anthony Terrell: Iowa; the Ron Paul campaign.
Andrew Rafferty: Iowa.
Jo Ling Kent: New Hampshire.
Ali Weinberg: South Carolina.
The Huffington Post
They're keeping their "Off the Bus" pro-am features up and running even as the newly-muscular news organization actually gets itself on, too. Assignments are not so much to individual candidates as to 2012 subtopics, with the exception of the Obama reelection campaign.
Howard Fineman: "Big picture" stories; coverage coordination.
Sam Stein: Barack Obama.
Ryan Grim: General.
Jon Ward: Lead on the Republican field.
Amanda Terkel: General.
Christina Wilkie: General.
Jason Linkins: Analysis.
Mark Blumenthal: Polling.
Michael Calderone: Media.
Paul Blumenthal: Money and advertising; campaign finance.
Jason Cherkis: Investigative.
Michael McAuliff: Senate 2012.
John Celock: Gubernatorial elections, statewide elections, state referenda and ballot initiatives.
New York magazine
The magazine, especially with its more nationally-focused website, generally gears up to cover the 2012 election using its existing staff already assigned to beats where the election matters, including national affairs and local politics and media. Contributing editors like Joe Hagan and Jennifer Senior are expected to write about 2012 as the year progresses without any specific beat assignment. A New York spokesperson tells us that John Heilemann will be sent on the trail from time to time, and that daily columnists and essayists will address the election (including especially Daily Intel writer Jonathan Chait, recently of The New Republic).
John Heilemann: National affairs editor.
Jonathan Chait: Daily columnist.
Dan Amira: Campaign news at Daily Intel blog.
Noreen Malone: Campaign news at Daily Intel blog.
Frank Rich: Writer-at-large (essays).
Gabriel Sherman: Media.
Chris Smith: New York.
The magazine is not assigning any reporters specifically to the campaign, so relevant staff are covering it as they would any national news story. Here they are.
Christopher Lockwood: U.S. editor.
Ed McBride: Washington correspondent.
Roger McShane: Editor, Democracy in America blog.
Peter David: Lexington columnist.
Greg Ip: U.S. economics.
The magazine has assigned some large pieces on the campaign that a spokesperson said they can't announce yet and recently launched an Election 2012 channel on TheAtlantic.com, which features "our political team’s latest reporting and analysis, plus interviews, video, quizzes, maps, stories from the archives, and more," a spokesperson said. For the most part, regular political staff will be covering the election online in addition to the large magazine features and regular contributions from James Fallows.
James Fallows: Politics.
Molly Ball: Campaign reporter.
Garance Franke-Ruta: Senior editor overseeing online politics channel through 2012.
David Graham: Associate editor overseeing the Politics page and editorials, reporting and news analysis.
Conor Friedersdorf: News analysis; commentary.
Robert Wright: Columnist.
Ta-Nehisi Coates: Columnist.
Nancy Scola: Politics and technology.
Andrew Cohen: Politics and law.
It's a simple arrangement at Rupert Murdoch's tablet-only newspaper.
Daniel Libit: Barack Obama.
Dan Hirschhorn: Republican nominee.
The regular political and national news staff will be focused on the elections without special assignments for the campaign year. Individual reporters are assigned to lead coverage from individual primary states as the campaign unfolds.
Thomas DeFrank: Washington Bureau Chief; assigned to New Hampshire. Obama focus.
Celeste Katz: Political Writer and Blogger, The Daily Politics; assigned to New Hampshire.
Jonathan Lemire: Reporter assigned to Iowa.
Alison Gendar: Reporter assigned to South Carolina.
Aliyah Shahid: Reporter assigned to Iowa, live-tweeting.
Newsweek and The Daily Beast
As with other magazines, Newsweek, along with its companions website, The Daily Beast, is drawing on its political talent pool while dispatching a few specific reporters to the early primary states:
Andrew Romano: Iowa.
Daniel Stone: New Hampshire.
Peter J. Boyer: General.
John Avlon: General.
Nick Summers: General.
Leslie Bennetts: General.
Lloyd Grove: General.
Michelle Cottle: General.
Lois Romano: General.
The retooled Yahoo! news political outfit's eyes will be trained on 2012 like everyone else's, and Zachary Roth and Daniel Gross continue their reporting on politics and the economy with that focus. But there's also some campaign-following and traveling planned. The site will be doing some "reverse-embedding," carrying reports from writers who are already based in primary country: Kerry Howley in Iowa and Jeff Sharlet in New Hampshire. The core group will be traveling throughout the campaign.
David Chalian: New Hampshire (assignment T.B.D.)
Holly Bailey: Romney and Perry campaigns in Iowa; New Hampshire (assignment T.B.D.)
Chris Moody: Santorum and Gingrich campaigns in Iowa; New Hampshire (assignment T.B.D.)
Rachel Rose Hartman: Paul and Bachmann campaigns in Iowa; New Hampshire (assignment T.B.D.)
Chris Suellentrop: New Hampshire.
Liz Goodwin: New Hampshire (focus on education and immigration, and spot coverage).
Walter Shapiro: New Hampshire ("Character Sketch" column).
Expect a variety of Slate writers and columnists to be weighing in on election-related topics this campaign season, including heavyweights Eliot Spitzer and Katie Roiphe. Even law-and-politics writer Dahlia Lithwick, Sasha Issenberg, Will Saletan (on social issues like abortion and the campaigns) and Hannah Rosin are planning some reporting from the trail. But the core 2012 traveling team is:
John Dickerson: General 2012 coverage.
David Weigel: General.
Talking Points Memo
In its latest redesign this past September, Talking Points Memo added a 2012 vertical anchored by Evan McMorris-Santoro and Benjy Sarlin. The page will pull in reportage from about a half-dozen staffers assigned to the election this year, including:
Evan McMorris-Santoro: General; Iowa, South Carolina and Florida.
Benjy Sarlin: General; New Hampshire, Florida and Nevada.
Brian Beutler: The White House, Congress
Eric Kleefeld: Congress
Kyle Leighton: Polling
Pema Levy: 2012 general, morning tip sheet
Ben Smith only just left his long-time home at Politico, but the prolific political blogger already has a team up and running in his new role at Buzzfeed. As editor-in-chief, it's his job to bring original reporting and analysis to the influential meme machine, and he's starting with campaign coverage. He and his young charges on the election beat will be taking turns on and off the trail all year, he told us.
Ben Smith: General; Iowa and New Hampshire.
Zeke Miller: National politics with a focus on the Obama campaign; Iowa.
Rosie Gray: Ron Paul campaign, Occupy Movement, Tea Party; New Hampshire.
Matt Stopera: General; Iowa.
McKay Coppins: Republican nominee.
Andrew Kaczynski: Video.
Dorsey Shaw: Video.
John Ellis: Analysis.
Time has a core rotation of about 10 New York and D.C.-based political writers, reporters and columnists who will be filing campaign coverage to the weekly magazine and the daily website on a rolling basis this election season. A spokesperson said just about all of them are expected to be regular fixtures out on the trail. Much of its online coverage will live on the Swampland blog and The Page.
Mark Halperin: General; The Page.
Joe Klein: Columns; Republican race.
Michael Duffy: General
Michael Crowley: Obama; economy.
Michael Scherer: White House; midterms.
Jay Newton-Small: Capitol Hill and campaign politics.
Massimo Calabresi: General.
Alex Altman: General.
Katy Steinmetz: General.
Adam Sorensen: Swampland.
Politico's nothing but politics throughout the year, and in 2012 as in 2008 will field a substantial team on the trail (you've been reading tweets and articles from most of these folks from Iowa even today). The biggest news here is the departure of Ben Smith, who makes this list anyway because he'll continue to contribute a column from the trail.
Mike Allen: 2012 race, White House (Playbook).
Jonathan Martin: General.
Maggie Haberman: General (Burns & Haberman blog).
Alex Burns: General (Burns & Haberman blog).
James Hohmann: General (Morning Score blog).
Juana Summers: Republican field.
Ginger Gibson: Republican field.
Reid Epstein: Republican field (presently with Mitt Romney).
Emily Schultheis: Republican field.
David Catanese: House, Senate, gubernatorial races.
Alex Isenstadt: House, Senate, gubernatorial races.
Glenn Thrush: White House, Obama reelection.
Carrie Budoff Brown: White House, Obama reeleection. Jen Epstein: White House, Obama reelection.
Ken Vogel: Campaign finance.
Dave Levinthal: Campaign finance.
Anna Palmer: Campaign finance.
Dylan Byers: Media.
Roger Simon: Political columnist.
Ben Smith: Political columnist.
The Boston Globe
The Globe has scrutinized Mitt Romney perhaps more closely than any other publication. Now that the paper's former governor is heading into New Hampshire fresh off a victory in Iowa, its mission is to own coverage of the hometown candidate, and it has several veterans of the Romney beat on deck to see that mission through.
Chris Rowland: Coverage coordination; general.
Michael Kranish: New Hampshire primary; general; author of forthcoming Romney book.
Brian Mooney: Various candidates; covered Romney’s healthcare record in Massachusetts with an extensive series earlier this year.
Michael Levenson: Various candidates.
Matt Viser: Globe's Romney reporter.
Bobby Caina Calvin: New Hampshire primary; general.
Tracy Jan: Gingrich, Paul, Tea Party.
Glen Johnson: Various candidates; has covered Romney extensively.
Shira Shoenberg: New Hampshire primary.
Sarah Schweitzer: New Hampshire primary; voter sentiment.
A spokesperson for the magazine tells us: "National Journal is using all of its resources to cover the campaign on platforms that include National Journal Hotline, The Cook Political Report, National Journal magazine, NationalJournal.com and an analytical blog called 2012 Decoded. Reporters handling the economy, Congress, national security and other beats are also contributing. The reporters listed as embeds are on the road with different candidates pretty much all the time." Those reporters are covering the campaigns as part of a partnership with CBS News.
Ron Fournier: General.
Ron Brownstein: General.
Beth Reinhard: General.
Jill Lawrence: General.
Jackie Koszczuk: General.
Alex Roarty: General.
George Condon: General.
Major Garrett: General.
Matt Cooper: General.
Reid Wilson: General.
Josh Kraushaar: General.
Tim Alberta: General.
Chris Frates: Money and influence.
Naureen Khan: NJ-CBS embed.
Sarah Huisenga: NJ-CBS embed.
Sarah B. Boxer: NJ-CBS embed.
Lindsey Boerma: NJ-CBS embed.
Rebecca Kaplan: NJ-CBS embed.
Rodney Hawkins: NJ-CBS embed.
More by this author:
- 'Village Voice' fires Michael Musto in yet another round of cuts
- 'New York Post' buyouts focus on 'loyal soldiers ... highest paid'