The Allure of the Web: A Rookie Political Reporter Retreats from His Early Reliance on Political Web Sites and Blogs

By Reilly, Adam | Nieman Reports, Spring 2004 | Go to article overview

The Allure of the Web: A Rookie Political Reporter Retreats from His Early Reliance on Political Web Sites and Blogs


Reilly, Adam, Nieman Reports


For me, the entry into covering the presidential primaries was abrupt, and the learning curve was a steep one. While some of the candidates were still declaring their intent to run, I was working as a municipal reporter at a small Boston-area daily newspaper. But during the late summer, I switched jobs and now report on politics--local, state and national--at the Boston Phoenix, an alternative weekly with a reputation for strong political content.

With New Hampshire so close to us and the Democratic National Convention in Boston, the primary races have become a major focus of my reporting. To help me make the transition from covering zoning disputes and school board meetings to presidential politics, I turned to the vast array of Web resources--but lately I've become increasingly ambivalent about my reliance on them.

A Web Obsession Develops

Actually, my embrace of these Web resources of political reporting began a bit earlier. In fact, these sites helped me to get my job. While I had been reasonably informed by what I'd heard and read in the traditional print and broadcast media, I wasn't a compulsive consumer of political news. But during the interview process, whenever I had a spare moment, I'd head to the Internet to delve deeper into the national political scene and generate story ideas. Before long, sites like Salon and Slate assumed a prominent place in my daily news-consumption routine.

Shortly after I got to the Phoenix, the balance between traditional and Web-based media shifted decisively. A politically savvy friend in Washington, D.C. sent me a list of must-read political Web sites. I put aside some slight moral pangs and started to use my friend's password to read the subscription-only Web publication, The Hotline, the National Journal's mid-morning omnibus of daily political news. Worried I might miss something important, I made sure to read the Journal's shorter morning and afternoon Web briefings. I also became a compulsive reader of ABC News's The Note, another Internet catchall for things political. Between reading that site's commentary and using its many links to access stories by writers at newspapers throughout the country, The Note, alone, often took up huge chunks of my time each morning.

My growing obsession didn't stop there. Each day, it seemed, I learned of another must-read Weblog, a place I could go and find new information along with sharply opinionated analysis. These blogs were hard to keep track of, but they all seemed important, so I made a point of visiting sites like the Daily Kos, Talking Points Memo, and Andrew Sullivan.com whenever possible. Online sites of influential magazines like The New Republic, The Washington Monthly, The Weekly Standard, and National Review were also regular destinations: First I targeted their free content, then schmoozed my way into passwords that allowed me to access subscriber-only material. Reading the magazines at the library would probably have been easier, but then I might have missed a vital bit of Web-only content that I felt I couldn't afford to not read.

As I look back, this campaign of mine to catalog and visit every worthwhile political Web site--a campaign that was bound to fail--served a valuable purpose. It tossed me headlong into an unfamiliar world where I became saturated with massive amounts of information and forced to master a new vocabulary. Ten years ago, such an immersion would have left me surrounded by stacks of newspapers, with a sore finger from clicking across the spectrum of TV news shows and political roundtables and with a radio dial worn down by my effort to heat more coverage. While those news sources are still available, heading to the Internet made this journey one I could accomplish at my desk and on my computer. And I was able to achieve my goal of learning as much as I could as fast as I could more quickly.

That's the good news.

The Obsession Becomes a Liability

The bad news is that at some point--and I don't know exactly when--my gung ho approach became a liability. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Allure of the Web: A Rookie Political Reporter Retreats from His Early Reliance on Political Web Sites and Blogs
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.