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Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The President's Media Strategy

At AP, Nancy Benac writes:
Capitalizing on the possibilities of the digital age, the Obama White House is generating its own content like no president before, and refining its media strategies in the second term in hopes of telling a more compelling story than in the first.
At the same time, it is limiting press access in ways that past administrations wouldn't have dared, and the president is answering to the public in more controlled settings than his predecessors. It's raising new questions about what's lost when the White House tries to make an end run around the media, functioning, in effect, as its own news agency.
Mike McCurry, who served as press secretary to President Bill Clinton, sees an inclination by the Obama White House to "self-publish," coupled with tactics "I never would have dreamed of in terms of restricting access" for independent news organizations.
"What gets lost are those revealing moments when the president's held accountable by the representatives of the public who are there in the form of the media," says McCurry.

Statistics compiled by Martha Kumar, a political science professor at Towson University in Maryland who studies presidential communication, show how Obama's strategy has differed from his predecessors.
In his first term, Obama engaged in 107 short question-and-answer sessions with reporters during events in the Oval Office, the Cabinet Room and similar settings. President George W. Bush, by contrast, had 354.
By the same token, though, Obama held twice as many solo press conferences as Bush: 36 compared with 17. And in the first term Obama did 674 interviews - TV, radio, Internet, print - compared with 217 for Bush and 191 for Clinton.
With interviews, the president has more power to choose his timing, questioners and format, in hopes of delivering a certain message in a setting that's not always hard-hitting. In impromptu Q-and-A sessions, the questions fly about anything and everything from the national press corps - and these wide-open opportunities to challenge the president on the events of the day have become increasingly rare.