The Clinton campaign is counting on Texas to stay alive, but as David Domke describes in his account at the Crosscut Seattle
, they haven't exactly reached out to student journalists to keep the fire burning (at least not his students).
David Domke teaches journalism at the University of Washington. In order to cover the presidential race, 16 of his students created SeattlePoliticore.
In David's words:
We've gone new media, adopting a mode of blogging that combines traditional reporting, insights from other news outlets, and first-person commentary. It's somewhere between the voice of The Seattle Times' David Postman and the rancor of the blogosphere: part journalism, part pundit, part political newbies. Altogether, we have presented the campaign through youthful eyes.
The students have covered both the Idaho and Washington state caucuses, and they are heading to Texas later this week. They have generally been successful gaining access, but they were only able to get into a caucus in Washington through the intervention of the Seattle City Library and a Sheriff's deputy.
The Obama campaign also stepped in to ensure the students got in at the KeyArena when the Senator spoke on February 8. Domke writes, "when some of my students arrived at KeyArena after the local police had locked the doors and weren't allowing anyone in -- including reporters from local TV and radio outlets -- the students dialed up Giertz [a contact at the Obama campaign] and he personally came and vouched for them."
Neither Domke nor the students have had the same sort of success dealing with Senator Clinton's campaign. Jennifer Ware, one of Domke's students, "noticed a difference between Obama and Clinton when [she] first started calling their campaigns in the week before the caucuses." While she found dealing with Obama's campaign to be a positive experience, her description of what happened when she called Clinton's campaign is rather odd:
When I called the Clinton campaign to ask for a contact at their Washington state campaign office, one staffer tried to tell me that Washington was where their campaign headquarters is. "Yes" she said, "Washington, it's right next to Virginia."
According to David Domke, Ware's experience was not an isolated incident. "The Obama campaign treated us like pros -- they called us back within minutes, set up interviews, got us press passes, went out of their way to make the campaign accessible. Whereas the Clinton campaign, "didn't return a single phone call, didn't provide press access, and did virtually nothing to encourage our coverage." Domke dismisses their inaction as "either arrogance or disorganization on the Clinton campaign's part."
Later this week Domke and his student's will head to Texas to cover what could be the last hotly contested battle primary season. I'm curious if the student's will have better luck making contact with Clinton's Texas campaign or if the failure to reach out to student journalists is true in other offices as well.
For what it's worth, the team at SeattlePoliticore were not just successful making contact at the Obama campaign. The campaigns of Paul, Huckabee, and McCain, all reached out to the students and made sure that they were able to attend their events. As Domke points out, "For those scoring at home, five presidential campaigns came to town -- and four reached out to my students, treating them like what they are: journalists and citizens."
I sent an e-mail to Hillary Clinton's campaign asking her to comment on this story; if I receive a response, I'll update this blog if I hear anything besides the auto-responder