Covering the US presidential election is proving too expensive for many American newspapers.
In previous elections reporters followed the candidates by car or bus. The cost was modest. Today, with candidates flying from city to city, often in charter planes, fares can cost as much as $2,000 a trip.
In an era when newspaper editors because of declining income have to watch the dollars, many papers are now covering the campaign from television or using just wire service reports from AP or Reuters.
Among the papers which do not have reporters covering the candidates on a day to day basis are USA Today (the largest paper in the US) the Boston Globe, Dallas Morning News, the Atlanta Journal, Houston Chronicle and the Philadelphia Journal – all papers that in previous presidential elections had their own reporters trailing along – as recorded in The Boys on the Bus, the rollicking chronicle of the adventures of the newsmen who covered the 1972 campaign.
This year the only papers that have full-time correspondents on the trail are: The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Wall Street Journal and the NY Times.
“We’d all like to be able to be out there, but given the reality of the costs and other priorities, it just isn’t realistic”, the political editor of USA Today told the NY Times.
Among the news magazines Newsweek is the only one to have committed to a writer travelling on both the Clinton and Obama planes – at a cost it’s estimated of at least $30,000 a month per person.
And how about the reporter from Rolling Stone, Timothy Crouse, who wrote The Boys on the Bus? He is sitting out this election campaign – watching it on television at his home in North Carolina.