Obama Administration punishes reporter for using multimedia
The hip, transparent and social media-loving Obama administration is showing its analog roots. And maybe even some hypocrisy highlights.
White House officials have banished one of the best political reporters in the country from the approved pool of journalists covering presidential visits to the Bay Area for using now-standard multimedia tools to gather the news.
The Chronicle's Carla Marinucci - who, like many contemporary reporters, has a phone with video capabilities on her at all times -shot some protesters interrupting an Obama fundraiser at the St. Regis Hotel.
She was part of a "print pool" - a limited number of journalists at an event who represent their bigger hoard colleagues - which White House press officials still refer to quaintly as "pen and pad" reporting.
But that's a pretty Flintstones concept of journalism for an administration that presents itself as the Jetsons. Video is every bit a part of any journalist's tool kit these days as a functioning pen that doesn't leak through your pocket.
In fact, Carla and her reporting colleague, Joe Garofoli, founded something called "Shaky Hand Productions" - the semi-pro, sometimes vertiginous use of a Flip or phone camera by Hearst reporters to catch more impromptu or urgent moments during last year's California gubernatorial race that might otherwise be missed by TV.
The name has become its own brand; often politicians even ask if anyone from Shaky Hand will show at their event. For Carla, Joe and reporters at other Hearst newsrooms where Shaky Hand has taken hold, this was an appropriate dive into use of other media by traditional journalists catering to audiences who expect their news delivered in all modes and manners.
That's the world we live in and the President of the United States claims to be one of its biggest advocates.
Just the day before Carla's Stone Age infraction, Mr. Obama was at Facebook seated next to its founder, Mark Zuckerberg, and may as well have been wearing an "I'm With Mark" t-shirt for all the mutual admiration going back and forth.
"The main reason we wanted to do this is," Obama said of his appearance, "first of all, because more and more people, especially young people, are getting their information through different media. And historically, part of what makes for a healthy democracy, what is good politics, is when you've got citizens who are informed, who are engaged."
Informed, in other words, through social and other digital media where videos of news are posted.
The President and his staffers deftly used social media like Twitter and Facebook in his election campaign and continue to extol the virtues and value. Except, apparently, when it comes to the press.
So what's up with the White House? We can't say because neither Press Secretary Jay Carney nor anyone from his staff would speak on the record.
Other sources confirmed that Carla was vanquished, including Chronicle editor Ward Bushee, who said he was "informed that Carla was removed as a pool reporter." Which shouldn't be a secret in any case because it's a fact that affects the newsgathering of our largest regional paper (and sfgate)and how local citizens get their information.
What's worse: more than a few journalists familiar with this story are aware of some implied threats from the White House of additional and wider punishment if Carla's spanking became public. Really? That's a heavy hand usually reserved for places other than the land of the free.