Carl Hulse | The Long Center for the Performing Arts

Changing with “The Times,” Journalist Carl Hulse Finds New Media Footing in “First Draft”

Journalist, editor, and rock ‘n roll drummer all describe Carl Hulse, Chief Washington Correspondent for The New York Times. With over 40 years of experience in journalism, Hulse is no stranger to political reporting, but as media evolves and shapeshifts so does he. Check out an article below penned by Hulse, discussing his career to present day, and the way he’s changing the way we consume media as Managing Editor of First Draft.

When I started my first full-time newspaper job as a reporter at the LaSalle-Peru, Ill., News-Tribune in January 1977 immediately after graduating from college, I wrote my stories on newsprint cut into roughly 8.5-by-11 sheets on a manual Royal typewriter. The presses were just steps away.

Now with First Draft, the new digital offering on politics and Washington from The New York Times, no paper or presses are involved. Many if not most people will read it on their smartphones. It is certainly a big change in the way the news that I help produce is consumed and distributed.

But the basics haven’t changed. The main idea is still to get new, interesting information and publish it quickly in an engaging and accurate way. Even the volume is not all that different—three or four stories a day was pretty standard for me at the News-Tribune. Besides the morning newsletter, First Draft is going to have a steady flow of stories, photos, videos and tweets from the political staff, the Washington Bureau and the National Desk. We will also surface content we like from other publications. But the highest-profile politician I talked to back at the News-Tribune was more likely a mayor or school board member rather than the vice president or a senator.

While it has been very challenging for the many people involved over the past months, creating First Draft from scratch has been fun (and will seem even more so once we get past these hectic first days). We are trying to reimagine the presentation and delivery of news while retaining the sensibility of The Times.

We began talking about a project like this more than a year ago and have been actively engaged in putting it together throughout 2014. The effort has involved dozens of people from Washington and New York, including a design team, developers, interactive news and graphics, the Consumer Insight Group, advertising and photo. Working with Carolyn Ryan, the Washington bureau chief and political editor, about six of us have been engaged mainly full time in recent months. When it is up and running, First Draft will draw on the reporting and expertise of the political staff, the entire Washington bureau and the National desk.

And for a veteran ink-stained wretch like myself, it is great to still be in the game even when there is no ink.

Carl Hulse will be joining Maureen Dowd next week, November 18th in Dell Hall, discussing the news media, the ups and downs of the last year and a half, and the politics of now.

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