For all the challenges, some of the same forces that are driving the national campaign are also creating new opportunities for Iowa journalists. For example, Obradovich has begun “live tweeting” campaign events she covers from her Twitter feed.

That approach has pros and cons, she said. “Twitter coverage probably does emphasize the sound byte over what I would say is more nuanced coverage,” she said, adding that she uses it “as a way to generate interest and ultimately come back to my blog and column to color in the lines, provide that context.”

But using Twitter also allows for instant feedback, and even participation, from readers, Obradovich said. While tweeting what the candidates are saying during meetings with the Register’s editorial board, she’s had follow-up questions suggested by readers—and promptly posed them to the candidates.

And Obradovich remains optimistic that amidst a changing media landscape and with less access to candidates, local journalists can see past the horse race.

“If you look at the number of column inches over the last few weeks the Register’s devoted to issue coverage, it’s been significant,” she said. “That stuff’s not getting ignored.”

Andrew Duffelmeyer has covered government and politics in Iowa for the Associated Press, the Iowa Independent, and He grew up in Ames, attended Drake University in Des Moines, and continues to live and work in Iowa's capital city.