Training Young Campaign Reporters To Be Careful What They Say, Do and Tweet

By Alex Weprin 

The New York Times has a story today focusing on the group of young reporters that CBS News and the National Journal have embedded with the 2012 political campaigns. Following in Jake Tapper’s tips for campaign reporters, the item focuses mostly on how the young correspondents should react to being targets of political campaigns and other outlets:

Preparing journalists to cover the presidential campaign these days is also an exercise in indiscretion management. In the new dynamic of campaigns, reporters themselves are targets both of political strategists as well as other journalists and bloggers.

“People are watching you,” Fernando Suarez, a CBS News reporter who covered Hillary Rodham Clinton’s presidential campaign, admonished the young reporters. He recounted once innocently checking his e-mail and Facebook page during a Clinton rally in Oregon. A local blogger looked over his shoulder, snapped a picture of him and then wrote an item criticizing the media for being disengaged…

In the hands of a political partisan looking to discredit a news organization, these slip-ups can become powerful and fatal ammunition. “Everything you say can and will be used against you,” said Ron Fournier, the editor-in-chief of National Journal.

The item also writes about CBS and NJ are discouraging the young reporters from sending out Twitter messages that have not been vetted by an editor, among other things:

In light of this new, more perilous media climate, news organizations are counseling impulse control. At National Journal and CBS News, reporters must attach the suffix “CBSNJ” to their Twitter account names and have been directed to talk to their editors before they send out a Twitter blast.

“If Jon Huntsman drops out of the race, we want to know back at the news desk,” Caroline Horn, senior producer of politics for CBS News, told them. “We don’t want to find out about it on Twitter.”