Jay Carney Steps Back into the Spotlight

Vice President Biden's Communications Director Jay Carney will replace Robert Gibbs as White House press secretary, the White House chief of staff revealed today.

The choice of Carney, who is married to ABC News' Claire Shipman, is an interesting one, in that he is not only a former journalist -- having been a White House reporter and Washington bureau chief for Time magazine during his 20 years there, as well as an on-air personality and analyst -- but a former magazine journalist.

In their heyday, the newsweeklies specialized in a particular sort of journalism -- big narratives and step backs -- and trained reporters to see past the moment to moment (I guess it used to be called daily) news cycle to more enduring narratives that could be told in prose both gripping enough to hold readers and accessible enough to reach millions of them. The capacity to keep sight of the larger narrative arc will be an important skill for someone going into a position where he'll have to deal with a news cycle for stories that now can sometimes be as short as 20 minutes.

That said, Carney's also been part of that new media world. He "was one of the first mainstream journalists to blog," WhoRunsGov recounts, helping move Time's Washington writers into the blogosphere fray with the creation of it's Swampland blog.

The new post will also be a major leap in intensity for Carney. No major news media outlet in America has a reporter devoted full-time to the vice president. Stories on the vice president tend to focus on his foreign trips or else consist of big-picture check-ins asking what he's up to and how he's doing in the role.

As a sign of just how low-profile Carney's post has been, a search of WhiteHouse.gov shortly after today's announcement turned up just two mentions of Carney, as compared to 674 of Robert Gibbs, and not a single photograph. Nor were there any photos of Carney in the White House Photostream on Flickr.

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Garance Franke-Ruta is a former senior editor covering national politics at The Atlantic.

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