When Newsweek reporter Andrew Romano was dispatched by the magazine to profile ultraconservative Republican congresswoman Michele Bachmann it was not, as he would have liked, with a pen, paper and pretend fedora. Instead they suggested he do it live on Twitter as he followed her around. She doesn’t seem to have taken to the idea. Romano’s article about the experience makes for a good read.
I hadn’t spent enough time with her to decide if she was unserious, or crazy, or whatever. Instead, I was simply doing what Twitter demanded: being pithy and provocative. Straightforward narration would go unnoticed. Quotes from Bachmann’s old friends would seem un-newsy. Nuance would cost too many characters. So I became a color commentator, casting off the reporter’s traditional cloak of detachment and publicly weighing in on the proceedings at regular intervals. And because observation and publication were now compressed into a single act, I spent a lot of time thinking about how to phrase my tweets that I otherwise would’ve spent absorbing a scene or speaking to locals. I don’t remember much about the crowd in Monticello, the businessmen in Blaine, or Bachmann’s larger themes. I do remember what I wound up tweeting, and that’s about it.