America’s newspapers have trouble enough these days, what with shrinking ad revenueand straying readers. But the daily print-and-pixel press also hasn’t gotten much love lately from the biggest newsmaker in the business: President Obama.
When Obama does media interviews these days, it’s not with a newspaper. TV gets the bulk of the president’s personal attention, from his frequent appearances on “60 Minutes” to MTV to chitchats with local stations around the country. Magazines — including the New Republic, which recently landed an interview conducted by its owner, Facebook co-founder and former Obama campaign operative Chris Hughes — are a distant second, followed by radio.
Newspapers? Well, Obama may be the least newspaper-friendly president in a generation.
TV interviews enable the president to take his message directly to a wide number of viewers, largely free of the “filter” that a print interview may entail. On TV, after all, the president rarely contends with contradictory comments from opponents or the shades-of-gray context about an issue that newspaper and online stories often offer.
Another key advantage of television is that it enables the president to target his message to specific audiences. In his interviews with Univision and Telemundo, for example, he talked about immigration reform, presumably an issue of intense interest to the networks’ Spanish-speaking viewers. He pitched ideas to address climate change in an interview with MTV in October, presumably in a bid to win over younger voters. On “The View,” he has appealed to the program’s large female audience.
The Obama White House has also embraced blogging and social media tools such as Twitter, Facebook and Flickr that bypass the middlemen of the mass media altogether. Obama’s Twitter feed, with nearly 27 million followers, reaches more people than all of the nightly news broadcasts combined and more than the total circulation of the 75 largest daily papers.