Power steps down from Obama campaign

Irish journalist, professor and Pulitzer-prize winning author Samantha Power has stepped down as an adviser to Barack Obama over comments she made about his rival Hillary Clinton.

A full-length version of the story can be read here.

I just heard her speak in University College Dublin last night, she is such a talented woman and this is a big loss for the campaign. As a journalist I have huge respect for Ms Power, she has written several fine articles from countries around the world.

Her article about Darfur published in the New Yorker back in 2004 is still one of the finest pieces of journalism I have ever read. (If you haven’t read it already I strongly recommend that you do) Before I read it I was wavering back and forth between Journalism and Music as a career, but after reading if my mind was made up.

All of that aside, there is something else to discuss.

Ms Power apparently made her remarks about Ms Clinton off the record to the Scotsman newspaper. It perhaps wasn’t the smartest move in the world, but nonetheless since when did off the record stop meaning exactly that to reporters? To me off the record is still off the record.

It may be frustrating as hell when a source says something great and you know you can’t do anything with it, but that’s the way the game works. If as journalists we burn sources and print off the record comments people will get scared, hush up and we will never get to the bottom of stories.

The Scotsman may have gotten themselves a story and a whole lot of publicity, but they may well have damaged journalism in the long run.

What I’ve been up to this week…

With Democratic and Republican candidates battling it out stateside, we launched a US election micro site this week. Check it out here

Looking forward to the madness of Super Tuesday and the next few states before we reach that point.

Check out my old newspaper in Spartanburg, South Carolina for some good local coverage of the primary this weekend. I really like their redesigned website!

Here are a couple of the other things I’ve worked on over the last week or so:

Donegal newspaper endorses McCain

and

Dublin Stakes out Monopoly board claim

Election shows up the limitations of print

I think today it seemed (at least in Ireland) that newspapers took another step towards becoming a thing of the past.

Out of the three broadsheets in Ireland, one had declared Barack Obama the winner of the New Hampshire primary and two decided he was ‘poised’ for victory.

By the time people handed over their €1.70 to buy a copy of The Irish Times this morning they could have thrown the stories about the US presidential primaries into the bin, because most of the information was completely outdated. And the headline gambles on the three main broadsheets were all wrong.

Here’s how the broadsheets led with the story this morning:

-Quoting exit polls the Irish Examiner led with the headline: ‘Obama deals Clinton second blow in crucial poll’.

-Reporting on the basis of what people said on the way into polling stations the Irish Independent settled on this headline: ‘Poll surge leaves Obama poised for second victory’.

-Like the Irish Independent, the Irish Times used information from people on the way into vote and they went with: ‘Obama poised for second win in New Hampshire’.

The problem is print has a deadline and news often breaks late leaving you in an impossible position. Obviously this type of thing happens quite often, but it was just so blatant today.

I consume a lot of news online, but I also enjoy reading at least one newspaper a day…and haven’t given up on the medium yet (though today I came close). I think the only strategy newspapers can take is to pursue more analysis and in-depth reporting. The type of in-depth coverage you don’t want to read on a computer screen. They need to steer clear of the inverted pyramid-straight news story formula as much as possible because it is just not going to cut it for that much longer.

But the question remains: if you were an editor what would you do when you have to go to print and you know the news is going to break after the ink has dried?