Romney "Pool" Reports, Part II

I wrote on Monday evening in a separate blog of how the Mitt Romney campaign told me I wasn't eligible to receive press "pool" reports about the daily activities of their candidate. It turns out that my journalistic colleagues are the ones who are regulating the flow of that information.

"The pool reports are reserved for the organizations participating in the pool rotation," wrote Romney press aide Rick Gorka.

For those not familiar with the ways of the political press corps, this might sound a little complicated - but let's walk through what's going on here.

On Monday, the Romney campaign started to allow what is known as a "protective pool" - in which at least one reporter is allowed to monitor just about everything the candidate does, with that information distributed to other journalists.

The idea is that you don't need dozens of reporters in a mad dash after the candidate at all times - the "pool" reporter gets to tag along at close range on things as routine as a stop at a local grocery store and more.

At the White House, those type of "Pool" reports are then sent out by email to a large group of journalists, which means reporters who don't have the financial resources to cover the President all over the globe are still able to get information on what is going on, whether it is inside the White House, on the campaign trail or on official trip.

For the Romney "Pool" reports, the distribution list is much tighter - just those news media organizations who have signed up for pool duty.

"There are eight print organizations that are covering Governor Romney full-time, bearing the cost of the travel, and writing the pool reports," Los Angeles Times reporter Maeve Reston told me in an email.

"We are in charge of distribution since we are the ones producing the reports," Reston added.

In other words, some familiar names in the journalism field have set up a pool system - with the consent of the Romney campaign - but they won't be sharing that information with reporters like me who aren't on the campaign trail full time.

The number of news organizations in the Romney pool was growing past eight on Monday night, as the Washington Post, New York Times, Politico, Yahoo, Buzzfeed, Time Magazine, Los Angeles Times/Tribune, Wall Street Journal, Associated Press, Reuters, Bloomberg and others were in the group.

And the decision on who gets to see the Pool reports, that is not being made directly by the Romney campaign, though they obviously did sign off on the idea of setting up the pool arrangement with major news organizations.

"It's the decision of the pool members not the campaign," tweeted Andrew Kaczynski, who reports for BuzzFeed Politics, one of the pool members.

"Feel free to join the print pool and you are more than welcome to the pool reports," Reston told me.

Unfortunately, I'm not going to be on the campaign trail day after day covering Romney or Obama. So I'm not going to be joining any pool operation any time soon.

But the way things are set up right now, I will get all kinds of background and color from the White House Pool reports about President Obama, the First Lady and the Vice President's campaign events.

When it comes to Romney events though, I won't be getting as much background information as on Mr. Obama.  Instead,  I'll be watching the AP wire for nuggets to use on the air.

I get it. All these news organizations are footing the bill. They are doing the work and spending the time and money for their coverage.  They don't want to be forced to share their work with others like me who are sitting on the sidelines.

On the other hand, the nature of a campaign for President does not really allow for much independent, enterprise reporting on what the candidate is doing in the last three months of a bid for the White House, and allowing only the bigger fish to have that access might not be the best answer either.

Does this arrangement work for the Romney campaign?  It probably does, even if it does remind some reporters that they aren't a very big fish in the political reporting pond.

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