Dec 3, 2009

White House party crashers

The addition of reporters from such ideologically driven news sites as Huffington Post and Talking Points Memo to the White House press pool has traditional media members concerned.

Peter Baker of the New York Times, for one, worries about relying on pool feeds from journalists who work for organizations that not only eschew impartiality, but scorn the idea that reporters can be unbiased.

Baker's point is well taken. Although reporters from HuffPo and TPM should be part of the White House press corps, it's a bit tricky to rely on them for pool feeds. But let's turn Baker's assumption of bias on its head: Should the New York Times worry that HuffPo and TPM will adulterate the news coverage of other White House watchers with their partisan bias? Or should HuffPo and TPM worry that once they join the game they'll find themselves adopting the traditional rules and standards to survive?

Think back to the days of Hunter S. Thompson and "The Boys on the Bus." We had hard-charging nontraditional reporters with stronger personalities and greater talents, and they pushed changes in the way DC was covered. But the more conservative, middle-line survived. (Indeed, the biggest change seems to be the boom in bad television journalism.) While the New Journalists have their heirs, the standards and traditions survived and, in some ways, became even more rigid.

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