Here Are All the White House Pool Reports
Much of the mundane, day-to-day media coverage of the president's activities is conducted under an arrangement that Matthew Yglesias has called a "mutually agreed upon plagiarism pact"—the pool report. Convention dictates that a reporter bear witness to essentially everything the president does outside the White House, but it would be logistically unworkable and economically inefficient for each member of the White House press corps to follow the president around in a crowd at all hours. So the news outlets that cover him agree to set up a pool—a rotating cast of reporters from each organization is scheduled to be on call, and that reporter writes up a dispatch of the president's comings and goings that each publication can use in their own coverage, as they see fit, without attribution.
There are two curious things about this arrangement: 1) These pool reports are distributed to the news outlets via email by the White House Press Office, which seems to work OK but introduces the spectre of official, government-sanctioned news to the process, and 2) they are quasi-secret. Though much of what is in these pool reports eventually finds its way into press coverage—that's what they're for!—the actual raw copy is available only to the anointed hundreds, or perhaps thousands, who are judged to be important enough to merit placement on the distribution list.
Today, we are making those reports public. Adam Pash, the director of Gawker Media's Editorial Labs, has built a tool that will automatically publish pool reports to a site we are calling Public Pool as soon as the emails go out from the White House. He's also built a Twitter account that will automatically send out updates when new reports go up. This is actually a resurrection of a project we launched, and soon abandoned, back in 2009. The difference this time is that publication is automated, and won't rely on a Gawker Media staffer finding the time to copy, paste, and publish the latest report manually.
So if you are interested in watching the sausage get made, follow Public Pool on Twitter here or check in at the site now and again. The next time the president cracks wise about Hillary Clinton's email servers or Joe Biden's handsiness, you won't need to wait for some blogger to incorporate the news into a post to read about it. And you'll be able to track whether those insightful details about the president's wardrobe were gleaned by, say, a Buzzfeed reporter or a Wall Street Journal reporter.
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