Keep your Blackberry under your pillow

Former Iowa Congressman Jim Leach — a Republican — endorsed Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama on Tuesday morning. I think my friend and co-worker Kay Henderson broke the story. It got a lot of national play and her blog post generated 3,000+ page views. I’m sure we got a bunch more at RadioIowa.com. I asked Kay how she got on the story so early:

“I sleep with my blackberry. I woke up at 6 o’clock, checked the ‘berry, and went back to sleep.  As I sort of floated out of dreamland I must have heard or sensed the vibration the ‘berry makes when there’s an incoming email. I pulled the ‘berry from underneath the pillow and read the email sent at 7:14 a.m. from a source in the Obama campaign, alerting me to the fact that former Iowa Congressman Jim Leach would be endorsing Obama in a few hours, during a telephone conference call being organized by the Obama campaign.

I called the newsroom and gave Matt – our morning anchor – the details for him to include in our next newscast, then roused myself from bed and walked into my home office.  I started blogging by feel, as I hadn’t found my glasses yet.  By 7:45 a.m. I had a fairly complete blog post up about the news.  It included text from a speech Vice President Dick Cheney gave at a Leach campaign fundraiser in 2003, explaining the Leach-Cheney-Rumsfeld connection.

I kept updating the post through the day.  An addition at the top – the opening Leach quote — came from a noontime interview.  The McCain folks emailed responses, which got to my email box by 1:50 p.m.”

A couple of things in Kay’s account stand out for me. If she had waited until she got to the office to check her email, she might not have had the jump on the story. Should all reporters sleep with their Blackberry under their pillow? Well, yeah, if you expect to beat Kay on a story.

And that she blogged the story before having her Cheerios. A whole bunch of political reporters follow Kay’s blog.

And while the technology is cool, there’s no substitute for having the contact in the Obama campaign.

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