Hillary Clinton's most recent column details the 11-day trip she spent traveling across Africa. The piece evocatively details the Secretary of State's impressions of Congolese rape victims and outlines her efforts to spread U.S. aid to these women. It's 858 words worth reading, that is, if you can avoid clicking on the adjacent photos of Zac Efron in a bathing suit or Nicole Richie's baby blog.
The column was published exclusively on People.com last Friday, a conspicuous rejection of the op-ed pages of the New York Times or the Washington Post, more popular choices for executive branch opinion pieces.
But the strange move is actually a smart one, considering that People.com's demographic is more representative of Clinton's most loyal followers, and publication there promises more blog- and Twitter-based sharing. Mediaite points out, "People.com is one of the most heavily trafficked sites on the Web, and arguably reaches an audience that doesn't necessary follow the NYT op-ed pages with as close an eye as some media types might. It's also a site that, according to its Quantcast description, 'appeals to a more affluent, slightly female slanted, skewing older audience.'"
Tabloid coverage of the Obama administration is nothing new; consider US Weekly's early Obama endorsement spreads and the influx of blogs entirely devoted to the first couple's fashion choices. This type of trend-based, often fluffier coverage is a sharp change in direction from that of previous administrations, and though this approach risks overexposure, Obama's signature media ubiquity strategy is an effective way of reaching his most elusive constituency.