cyn123007.jpgThe first full day in Iowa meant
logistics.  Logistics meant I sat for hours on end in my overly
pink hotel room drowning in papers with my blue tooth permanently
lodged in my ear.  The fruit of this tedious labor was a schedule
for one day, just one.  I was provided with campaign schedules
for most of the candidates courageous enough to brave the Iowa cold
(believe me, it’s cold). I encountered press secretaries and directors
who were extremely helpful and responded promptly and those who forgot
to call me back. 

Working with my associate producer,
Andrea Medeiros, today I realized one key thing, when in doubt consult
the website.  I’ve found that the web has become the journalist’s
best friend.  The funny thing about being in Iowa is I’m not only
a journalist, but also a voter.  This is a wonderful opportunity
not only to hone my journalistic skills but also to really get to know
the candidates.  Unfortunately, the only way I’ve been able to
get acquainted with the candidates is through their websites and press
offices.  I find I base my opinion almost solely on how easy it
is use the website and how helpful the press office is. 

My favorite website, without doubt is barackobama.com. 
There I can easily find Obama’s event schedule even though the press
secretary has already sent me a schedule for the next two weeks. 
Anything I need to know about the Iowa campaign is at my
fingertips.  Links are clearly labeled and are organized in
convenient groups. If it takes me longer than 3 minutes to find the
Iowa campaign headquarters or where the candidate will be tomorrow,
I’m very unhappy. 

So much of what we 
journalists do is time sensitive.  The longer I spend on one
task, the less I get or, more accurately, the less I sleep.  But
having looked at many political websites in such a short amount of
time, I can only wonder if voters put as much stock in the web as I
do.  As a young adult, I know that websites are the most frequent
means of getting information.  Are voters searching for where
their favorite candidate will be?  Are they willing to dedicate
the time to navigate difficult sites to find what they want?  Are
they willing to deal with vague or missing information? 

For example, a certain candidate’s website lists the caucuses
as the only event in Iowa when I know from my press release that he’s
crossing the state in a bus right now and will be leaving the state
before January 3rd. Supporters can clearly find where he’s been, his
positions but not where to support him.  However, in typical
political fashion the easiest link to find on all websites is the
“contribute” link. 

Tomorrow, though, I have the
pleasure of leaving the hotel to cover an actual person and maybe I’ll
be able to remove my blue tooth for a few brief moments.

-Cynthia