This campaign is so boring, pool reporters told us today. The excitement is gone and everyone's focusing too much on gaffes. They're alls starting to feel burnt out from the non-stop, non-existent news cycle. Pool reporters, we're here to tell you, "it get's better."
A little more than a week ago, New York Times' White House Correspondent Peter Baker tweeted, "One guy at least who's better off than four years ago -- Adam Nagourney, off the campaign bus, reporting from Lanai." Is Baker a prophet? Did he know 'are you better off?' was going to be the hot trend leading into the Democratic National Convention? Probably not. But it doesn't change the fact that Nagourney is sitting pretty right now after years in the pool. He left the trail for a comfy position as the New York Times L.A. Bureau Chief in 2010 after 24 years covering elections for different publications.
First, he knows your pain. The pool has always been boring, but it's the moments that make it worth it. "I don’t know what it’s like now, but it used to be a mixture of sheer drudgery and absolute fabulousness," he told us in an email. "The drudgery was waiting for hours in vans for candidates at private events, or playing golf, or whatever. But the fabulousness is you would be right up close to witness events: Candidates working a rope line, hanging out in a living room before taping a commercial (that happened with me in Clinton in 1992)," he writes. Sometimes the important stuff is fabulous, too. You're there for "just big historical events."
Nagourney said covering politics was "what [he] always wanted to do," but he really enjoys his new job in L.A. Going from Washington's weather to Los Angeles, how could he not? And now he gets to file stories from places like Hawaii, like the story Baker pointed out. Or he's convincing someone it's a good idea to send him to Disneyland so he can try
all the rides to make a case for adults to go to the amusement park. "I really wanted to push myself and try something different and cover a beat that was, for me, out of my comfort zone, while I still could. It’s challenging and really rewarding," he said.
"In this kind of national assignment, you have more freedom and flexibility about what to write," he said. "Obviously when a big story happens , I am responsible for jumping on it. But beyond that, you are expected to go out and find important stories that have national interest. So it’s much more correspondent-driven."
But, most of all, he remembers your pain. Pool reporting is "very intense, very important and very rewarding," Nagourney says, but sometimes you have to report about the small things. Sometimes the games you play on flights become part of your pool report. But you're responsible for reporting on everything. He did it, even before Twitter existed. "When I did pool reports, I would always err on the side of over-reporting. I’d include everything just in case there ever came a point where I wanted to use something I had witnessed while a pool reporter. So I might get really detailed in times of what people ate, time of arrival and departure," he said.
It may take a while, and you might hate the more mundane parts of pool reporting, but if you stick with it you could file an assignment from the beach in Hawaii some day. Life gets better after the pool, especially if you do it for more than 20 years.