Newsrooms gear up for Trump impeachment inquiry
The country’s leading news outlets are laying the groundwork for long-term coverage of the impeachment inquiry and all the potential fallout.
Networks are recruiting new experts who will contribute to live coverage in the months ahead. Newsrooms are launching newsletters, mobile alerts and other ways to keep people informed. Executives are thinking through their reporter assignments, making sure the right people are in the right places. And correspondents are updating their contacts, making sure they have legal analysts on speed-dial.
Cable news ratings have been elevated for the past two weeks. Web traffic has been up too. CNN Digital’s impeachment-related app alerts have attracted 300,000 subscribers in just a week, according to a spokeswoman. And CNN’s Impeachment Tracker newsletter, written by Zach Wolf, has amassed more than 16,000 subscribers since it launched on Friday.
The New York Times has also launched a standalone Impeachment Briefing newsletter to provide daily updates to readers.
“We decided to create the newsletter on September 24, the day the House formally launched its impeachment inquiry,” The Times’ editorial director of newsletters Adam Pasick said.
Since the briefing’s formal launch on October 1, “the response has been hugely positive — the Impeachment Briefing has been one of the most-read pieces of Times journalism every day since we launched.” He said the newsletter’s open rates are on par with The Times’ well-established Morning Briefing, “and occasionally even higher.”
Podcasts are also being launched and retrofitted to meet the political moment. WNYC Studios in New York is about to start a daily podcast show called “Impeachment.” Brian Lehrer will be the host.
CNN has rebranded its daily politics podcast, “The Daily DC,” as “Impeachment Watch.” And NPR has reformatted its twice-a-week politics show as a daily show, in part to cover “the path to impeachment.”
FiveThirtyEight is tracking impeachment polls. The Wall Street Journal is featuring a “guide to key players” in the Ukraine scandal. And numerous websites, from CNN to CBS to the Washington Post, are offering “live updates” in the form of rolling blogs that are constantly being updated.
CNN’s announcements about four new additions on Monday spoke volumes. Joining the network’s list of paid contributors:
— Jeffrey Engel, a CNN presidential historian, the co-author of “Impeachment: An American History” and the author/editor of ten books.
— Michael Gerhardt, a CNN legal analyst, the author of several books including “The Federal Impeachment Process: A Constitutional and Historical Analysis,” and a regular on CNN during the Clinton impeachment process.
— Ross Garber, a CNN legal analyst, who represented four governors facing impeachment proceedings and many other government officials throughout his career.
— And the Washington Post’s Shane Harris, now a CNN national security analyst, who’s been part of the Post’s team breaking big stories about the whistleblower complaint
Other TV networks have also been adding contributors with an eye toward this moment in time, as well. Fox, for instance, signed Ken Starr to a contributor deal a while back. CBS has two Constitutional law experts, Jonathan Turley and Kim Wehle. NBC and MSNBC have a whole host of commentators.
Expert analysis is vital, but arguably what’s most important right now is original reporting
“This isn’t a story that’s covered only from the halls of Congress or 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue,” NBC News Vice President and DC Bureau Chief Ken Strickland said.
“Like every ongoing story in Washington, we are covering every development from all corners of the administration and we have the teams to do that better than anyone else,” he said, citing reporters like Pete Williams, Andrea Mitchell and Kelly O’Donnell.