Mark McKinnon, political communications strategist and columnist for The Daily Beast, chatted with Politico‘s Executive Editor Jim VandeHei over the weekend at the Shorenstein Center’s 25th celebration at Harvard Kennedy School. What emerged might surprise you.
Among the topics: Twitter. Watch out Politico scribes. “I don’t like reporters tweeting when they should be reporting,” said VandeHei. “If they are doing it right, they are reporting.”
His own Twitter habits are anorexic. VandeHei has never written a single tweet, but has 716 followers and follows 144. In the mix of those he follows are USA Today‘s Susan Page, HuffPost‘s Michael Calderone, CBS’s Norah O’Donnell, GMA’s George Stephanopoulos, MSNBC “Morning Joe” Hosts Joe Scarborough and Willie Geist, NJ‘s Marc Ambinder and Susan Davis, CNN’s Candy Crowley, Dana Bash and John King, ABC’s Jake Tapper, NYT Jeff Zeleny, Mark Leibovich and Carl Hulse, WaPo‘s Ezra Klein, NBC’s Andrea Mitchell, and WSJ‘s Jonathan Weisman to name a few. He doesn’t follow every Politico reporter, but he follows usual suspects like Mike Allen, Jonathan Martin, Jonathan Allen, James Hohmann, Ben Smith and Jake Sherman. He’s also still following Kendra Marr, who was recently forced to resign for plagiarism.
In the Harvard interview, VandeHei noted that the problem with young recent grads he interviews today is they’re brilliant, but incapable of shifting through large quantities of information. He described many as very smart but “incapable of coherence.” He went on to talk about the importance of oversight, saying, “editors are essential.” The Politico co-founder also introduced uncommon journalism lingo into the conversation as he discussed “deeper dive” pieces. He calls them key to the future of journalism. He said Mike Allen has the most “readers” and “feeders.” He showered Allen with praise, saying he has a “special gift of getting people to talk. He’s nice, trusted.”
For those waiting fitfully for the day when VandeHei utters his first tweet he’s at @JimVandeHei. But don’t hold your breath.