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NBC to ‘Embed’ Journalists With Presidential Candidates

Jul 21, 2003  •  Post A Comment

Like American troops during the war in Iraq, the Democratic candidates will be accompanied by “embedded” video journalists for MSNBC, MSNBC.com and NBC News, who will cover them day in and day out as they march toward the primaries, which will winnow the crowded field of presidential hopefuls.
The nine one-person crews who will hit the campaign roads this summer are producers who will use digital mini-cams.
The practice of assigning “pup” or off-air reporters to candidates is nothing new, but NBC is getting attention by starting early and using the word “embed” to describe the process. The term was coined for correspondents who were placed with U.S. troops in Iraq.
“We use the term `embedded’ because we think it conveys to our audience what we are talking about. It’s a way of doing it that will lead to a different kind of reporting,” said Mark Lukasiewicz, executive producer of NBC News specials and “Decision 2004” coverage for NBC’s news platforms. “It allows us to be more agile and to get close to the story now, early in the process.”
“There aren’t a lot of pitfalls,” said Mr. Lukasiewicz, who will put the producers through “rigorous” training in everything from NBC News standards-in part because such an extended assignment can lead to a loss of objectivity-to how to pace themselves and how to use their equipment.
NBC’s strategy is part of the battle to be known as the network for political news-a quest that will also encompass the online political newsletters of some networks. For its part, ABC had George Stephanopoulos, host of “This Week With George Stephanopoulos,” moderate the first debate among the Democratic candidates in May, and it received good reviews. ABC News’ “The Note” has become an online must-read for political junkies since launching.
Brian Williams will moderate the previously announced Democratic candidates’ debate to be produced with The Wall Street Journal and carried live on CNBC at 4 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 25. The debate will be repeated the following day on MSNBC.