News & Politics

Post Covering President’s Vacation Second-Hand

News outlets are considering whether it’s worth covering a presidential vacation

President Barack Obama receives a national security briefing from John Brennan, Assistant to the President for Counterterrorism, in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, Aug. 19, 2011. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

If you read a Washington Post story from Martha’s Vineyard about President Obama’s vacation on the island, it will most likely be coming to you second-hand. For the first time in recent memory, the Post has decided not to send a reporter to cover a presidential trip.

“From a news perspective,” political editor Steven Ginsberg to an e-mail query, “this wasn’t a very tough call. On vacations like this one, access to the president is highly limited and news is rare. We are in a much better position to cover President Obama and his administration without going to Martha’s Vineyard for 10 days.”

Politico made a different call and sent White House correspondent Carrie Budoff Brown. Mark Landler has been writing from Edgartown for the New York Times. The TV networks and cable channels have festooned the New England haunt for the wealthy with satellite dishes for their correspondents.

The Daily Beast declined to send a reporter, according to Washington bureau chief Howard Kurtz. Ditto Huffington Post, which can rely on AOL’s reporters in a pinch.

One can conclude, as Ginsberg does, that having a reporter on Martha’s Vineyard with his or her face pressed against the virtual glass protecting the First Family is futile. But reporters gather news by being there. You can never tell what nugget you might find talking to the President’s neighbors.

As a reader, I would prefer to know the report I’m reading came from someone on the ground. For the first time, the Post won’t deliver.

Should the Washington Post have sent a reporter to cover Obama’s vacation? Tell us what you think in comments.

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