Mike Krzyzewski And Barack Obama Have More Than Reggie Love In Common

Through DukeBluePlanet.com, Duke's basketball program has found a way to add a personal voice to a program that most see as personality-free. The athletic department and, in particular, Mike Krzyzewski's team haven't exactly circumvented the media in putting out its own stories—but that type of media control technique wouldn't be so farfetched for such a high-profile organization.

Take, for example, the way the most famous person on the face of the earth, Barack Obama, handles the press.

In the campaign, beat reporters covering Obama vented frustration regarding the future president's aloofness. Many critics and studies found that the press' coverage leaned more positively toward Obama, but that belied the fact that John McCain, if only at the beginning of his campaign, was more transparent than Obama. Think about it: Obama was the candidate to rise over the traditional media on many occasions.  He announced that Joe Biden would be his vice president in a text message, rather than a press conference, and took pride in snubbing the Washington Post's editorial board during the campaign and The New York Times' crack reporting team in the transition.

In the White House, though, Obama has engaged the press more than some thought he would, even while putting out his own message. Trying to rise above the fray of the media is nothing new, but Obama has unique tools--think YouTube, a functioning Web site, Twitter and a BlackBerry--to make it more effective. And just like Krzyzewski, Obama hasn't defied the mainstream media (or even reporting bloggers) while offering his own message, The Washington Post's media critic Howard Kurtz writes:

As expected, the new administration is trying to reach its supporters directly through a new Web site and YouTube video of the president's weekly radio address. But Obama has made a point of paying his respects to the traditional media establishment.

During the transition, he had dinner with conservative commentators at George Will's Chevy Chase home, and met with liberal pundits the next day. He spent an hour fielding questions from The Washington Post's editorial board and did a handshaking tour of the newsroom. He sat down with the likes of ABC's George Stephanopoulos, CNBC's John Harwood and Steve Kroft of "60 Minutes."

On inauguration night, Obama spoke with Robin Roberts of ABC, whose parent company had paid $2 million to televise a ball and concert. On Super Bowl Sunday, Obama talked to NBC's Matt Lauer, pretending to be hurt that Us Weekly had put Jessica Simpson on the cover instead of him.

Of course, GoDuke.com and Blue Planet and WhiteHouse.gov (or Transition.gov and Recovery.gov) serve slightly different purposes. GoDuke issues press releases and features a few columnists, while  Blue Planet hosts player video blogs and behind-the-scenes access that mainstream media outlets couldn't cover because they wouldn't have the access that Dave Bradley has.

Theoretically, Obama can use his sites to speak directly to the U.S. citizens, without the so-called filter of the press. Using the Fourth Estate as a challenge, however, makes any president stronger and more confident in his positions, and thankfully, Obama and press secretary Robert Gibbs haven't shied away from the press in their month in office.

And who knows? Maybe both sides have learned something from each other. Jon Jackson, Duke's associate director of athletics for communication, cited the Obama example in our conversations, and it's always possible that Reggie Love has Blue Planet bookmarked in the Oval Office.


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