I have a new post up at CJR on the need for more self-awareness among political reporters about their role in creating an Iowa bounce. Here's how it begins:
Over the last week, much of the nation's political press corps has headed to Iowa to cover the Republican presidential campaign. The saturation coverage is already reaching absurd levels. Scott Conroy of Real Clear Politics described a Mitt Romney event Sunday in Atlantic, Iowa as "45 journalists, 30 Iowans, [and] 20 out of state political tourists." According to The Associated Press, "scores of reporters, photographers and camera crews packed into a small restaurant" there, "making it impossible to tell how many Iowa voters were seated at the tables."
With so many journalists covering the Iowa caucuses, the media tends to invest the outcome with a great deal of importance—in particular, by creating a narrative about the "meaning" of the results for the candidates going forward. Though this interpretive process helps both voters and party leaders coordinate in supporting the most competitive candidates, it also creates important challenges for reporters here in New Hampshire and nationwide who will cover the race as it moves forward after Iowa.
Read the whole thing for more.