How can we improve campaign coverage going forward? The structural changes to the news business and the rise of Twitter are realities that are unlikely to change any time soon, but Hamby offers a series of creative suggestions for new specialized beats that could be covered in upcoming election cycles, including voter contact tactics, narrowcasted media strategies, and the money trail. Media outlets should embrace the trend toward specialized beats and branded approaches to political content rather than bemoaning the lack of material to include in old-school dispatches from the campaign trail. Wonkblog can cover the economic policy debate better than almost any national reporter; FiveThirtyEight and HuffPost Pollster are far more sophisticated in their coverage of polling, and likewise for Victory Lab on tactics and The Monkey Cage on political science-based analyses of the campaign. The reality is that these specialists are vastly more informative to readers than even old-school journalistic generalists in their analyses of who is winning or what they’re proposing. General election process stories rarely add value; we need new approaches, not nostalgia for an era whose merits are often overstated.

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Brendan Nyhan is an assistant professor of government at Dartmouth College. He blogs at and tweets @BrendanNyhan.