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October 13, 2008 - Jennifer Houtman
There's nothing glamerous about covering politicians, especially those who visit Washington County from national races. It's usually a chaotic scene, and that certainly was the case with Sarah Palin's visit Sunday.
We understand campaigns want an opportunity for a quick photo, but sometimes I wonder if it's really worth it. Many supporters of the McCain/Palin ticket were left feeling disappointed about the way things went down on Sunday and I can't blame them.
We received a phone call from the Ohio McCain campaign Friday saying Palin would drive through Marietta on her way to St. Clairsville and that we had been chosen as the "pool" reporter and photographer. That meant we would have access to Palin while other media would not, and we would then share our stories and photos. As it turns out, that really didn't mean much.
Before long, word of her coming leaked out and so began endless speculation about where she might go and what she might do. We were given very little information, just that someone from the campaign would contact us Sunday. That's when we would be told where to meet Palin's bus.
That proved easier said than done. Our reporter received the first call about 2 p.m. with instructions to meet the motorcade in Little Hocking. Once he got there, the instructions changed again. And again. Finally he was instructed to meet Palin's bus at Huck's where the bus did indeed make a short stop. There he struggled to cover the event because of limited access by secret service and Palin's staff. He was never given a chance to talk to Palin or ask her any questions.
We know people are excited when a national politician comes to town. In Marietta, we're not only used to it, we've come to expect it. We'll get a chance to see - and hear - from another national politician when Sen. Joe Biden, the democrats' nominee for vice president, holds a rally in downtown Marietta Tuesday.
Stops like Palin's aren't intended to give us anything substantial. I guess it's just to make voters feel good. But did it? Many of Palin's supporters were waiting at sites elsewhere in the county where she never showed. In the end, they were disappointed they missed her.
The campaigns can't please everyone, but I would think they wouldn't want to disappoint a lot of people either. And for us, we have to think about what's really newsworthy and what isn't. Was Palin's brief pit-stop in Marietta news? Yes, but we like so many others were dissappointed it wasn't something more substantial.
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