Ever heard of Mayhill Fowler? Well, if you are following the US presidential campaign, you should have. At 61, the “citizen journalist” of the Huffington Post was last week most talked about people in the media circus. What she did was simply ask Bill Clinton for a comment a rather harsh story in the July issue of Vanity Fair
Todd Purdum’s article in VF is not exactly cozy journalism. It describes a post-presidency frenzy of private-jetting, skirt-chasing, and media outbursts that bruised Hillary bid for democrat nomination. Asked by the self-assumed amateur-journalist Mayhill Fowler, Bill Clinton erupted in a tirade against the VF reporter, calling him “dishonest”, “sleazy”, “a scumbag”, etc. Mrs. Fowler dutifully recorded the outburst and filed both an audio and a transcript to her blog on the Huffington Post. Bam!
The fun part of it is the debate that erupted in the traditional media elite. Mayhill Fowler was even profiled in the Los Angeles Times. The Fowler scoop is not an isolated piece of luck. She was the one who surfaced Barack Obama’s appreciation on the economically frustrated Pennsylvanians who, he said, ” get bitter, they cling to guns or religion.” An off-the-record remark that reverberates worldwide.
This weekend’s New York Times analysis was the perfect display of the embarrassment of the media elite facing some sort of disorganized, spontaneous, grass-rooted journalism, that didn’t even “wear its credential badges around the neck” (a major transgression), and whose work is propagating at light-speed thanks the blogs and YouTube. This sequence of events and reactions are really with the clicks to understand the new challenges of modern journalism.