Houston Chronicle's White House Correspondent
When Julie Mason's editors told her two years ago to take her White House coverage for the Chronicle and make it into a full-time blog, she was "enraged," she says.
"I was a 'White House correspondent'!" she recalls protesting. "I didn't like all the [blogosphere's] opinions and the flippancy.... It's very contrary to what a journalist does." Mason remembers the hazing when her blog started. "Other reporters mocked me relentlessly: It was superficial and trivial.... We were trend monkeys and it was the dumbing-down of everything we hold dear. I had worries about the same things."
Now she delights in the wry tone, the reader interaction and the national cache that Beltway Confidential lends to her newspaper and to the blog's sole author. She said she wants to keep it up with the next administration, and MSNBC has made her a regular political analyst from the White House lawn -- exposure her bosses applaud.
Mason measures her impact and the heft of her online audience by the comments she receives from readers and by the Chronicle's internal count of "monthly individual readers." To attract buzz and links to her blog, Mason said, she asks herself what people are "going to be upset about" in the day's news -- and sets out to poke that sore spot.
"I found a way to be a tart blogger without opinion," Mason said. "I consider myself a color commentator to the news."