Hadas Gold: Politico’s Media Point-Person

Hadas Gold has been a news junkie since her childhood.

Her parents, who were “avid consumers of the news,” would tune in as she hid behind the sofa and watched with them when it was past her bedtime.

“I distinctly remember watching ‘20/20’ with them on Friday nights, back when ‘20/20’ was a slightly more serious news program than it is now,” Gold said in an interview with MediaFile. “Honestly, watching Diane Sawyer… I think people like that got me interested in it initially.”

Today, she watches the news and reports on it as well. If you spend enough time in the political Twittersphere, you’ll definitely hear the name Hadas Gold — a Politico reporter at the helm of the website’s On Media blog which tracks “where politics meets the press.”

The blog was launched in November 2011 by Dylan Byers (now at CNN), and quickly gained a reputation for its scoops and ability to tap into the media-politics intersection. When Byers left in September 2015, Gold went from co-bylining and contributing pieces to the blog to being its point person, all in time to cover the tumultuous Trump candidacy and the Trump administration.

The exposure to news in her youth led to her love of reading and writing in elementary and middle school and to her joining her high school’s newspaper “as soon as [she] could.” By the time she arrived as an undergraduate at the George Washington University, studying journalism and joining GW’s student-run newspaper, The GW Hatchet, was a natural choice.

“It was the only subject that I could think of that I thought I would like to do, and it was partly because journalism is a very dynamic and exciting profession,” Gold said. “You’re always reporting, working on something new and talking to different people. That sounded really appealing to me.”

Gold’s journalism has taken her past the borders of the Beltway. She filmed a mini-documentary in Argentina, following trash pickers as an international reporting fellow at the Pulitzer Center. She was also born in Tel Aviv and grew up in Arizona. Beyond the lingual advantages (Gold knows Hebrew and Spanish), she sometimes has the opportunity to bring in her diverse background into her reporting.

“It’s definitely helpful and beneficial to be from a different country and different culture. Not a lot of people in DC are necessarily from Arizona, so you still have those connections to those people,” Gold said. “You can kind of take the temperature of what it’s like back there.”

She interned at CBS’ “60 Minutes,” Politifact and Cox Newspapers, and was a freelance producer at the Hispanic NTN24 news channel, all while earning a Bachelors and Masters from GWU.

“All [of] those internships and [working for] The Hatchet were almost more important than my actual degree, in terms of that they really gave [me] real-life work experience,”  Gold said. “The degree is important — you kind of get the theory in the back of what you’re doing. But if you want an idea of what day-to-day life is like in journalism, there’s nothing better than working with the experts in the field.”

She landed at Politico right after graduation, first as a web producer, then reporting on breaking news and finally reporting on the media.

Despite her previous experiences in the video realm, the written word is Gold’s preferred method.  But her knowledge of different mediums has come to help her report on all things media.

“You never say no to an opportunity when it presents itself, and I think it’s really important to get experience from a bunch of different mediums. I would never limit myself and say, ‘Oh, I’m only a print reporter,’” Gold said. “Nowadays, you kind of have to do everything, and I’m really grateful for those experiences. I think they were really useful, especially in my job now because I know what it’s like.”

So, what is it like to report on the media? Gold gets to talk to news personalities she has  admired her whole life. She even has a saved voicemail from Bob Schieffer on her phone: “One time when I interviewed with him, he called me back and, you know, that’s just really cool.”

And like every journalist out there, her day-to-day depends on the day. One morning she’ll be filing stories from Capitol Hill on Breitbart’s press credentials, the next she’ll have to wake up at 4:45 a.m. to do a hit for NPR’s Morning Edition. The day after? She’ll be at her desk, conducting interviews, giving interviews, talking to her editor and writing.

When she’s particularly busy, she’ll turn on some classical music so she can “drown out all the activity around the news” and focus on “a couple of profiles, a couple of quick stories” that she’s churning out on any given day.

“It’s really fascinating to kind of be on the front lines of reporting on [the media] because it’s one of those things where everybody talks about it.  All the reporters talk about it, and talk about how the media industry is changing. But it’s not what they cover so they don’t report it. To be the one documenting how the industry is changing and what’s happening, it’s really interesting.”

News moves fast, and news about news moves fast too. Gold’s lines of information are poised for maximum efficiency. Twitter is her “main portal into what’s happening,” so she’s got eight-10 Twitter lists on her TweetDeck to curate tweets from different reporters and outlets (“print reporters, television reporters, White House correspondents, right-wing, left-wing, and then various other ones”), which she constantly organizes and updates. She’s got a desk TV that streams four cable news channels at any given time.

She also has her daily news rotation: “I definitely check in with The New York Times, the Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, my competitors as well — I keep an eye on them. I always check in with Drudge Report, Breitbart, Huffington Post and ThinkProgress to get an idea of what all the different spectrums are talking about.”

No matter where Gold goes, she’s always on. Even when she’s doing hits for other outlets and lending them her expertise on media and politics, she’ll take her experiences and incorporate them into her work. She’s a frequent guest on various news shows, and recently signed on as a political contributor at Fox 5, a local D.C. news station.

Image: Twitter, @Hadas_Gold

“It’s always good for me to get to see all these different media companies and how they operate from the inside. It’s actually informative for me,” said Gold. “Going on a TV show isn’t just some promotion for me because I’m a media reporter; it’s also, in a way, part of my job. I get to see how things are working behind the scenes and talk to people there.”

Gold’s beat has been particularly pertinent as of late, considering that President Trump is more openly hostile to the media than his predecessors. Gold notes that she, and many other media reporters out there, were on this beat before Trump came on the scene. But his presence has certainly made waves.

“Trump has made everyone a media reporter, because even people who are just White House reporters, they’ll find themselves talking to members of the media because the president is so in-tune with the media and he keeps in touch with a lot of media figures. With past presidents, you didn’t necessarily call the anchor of a TV show to get a sense of what the president said in some private meeting. But now you do.”

In the era of Trump, Gold has found herself so embroiled in the mediasphere that she became a story item. She and other journalists became targets of anti-Semitic threats online in the weeks leading up to the 2016 election, and the story got picked up by many.

“I think my situation just happened to get publicized because I’m a reporter, and because of the timing,” she said. “I was actually surprised on how much attention it got. It was unpleasant. I mean, it’s never nice to have someone attacking you that way. It was also interesting to kind of be in the limelight. I’m normally the person who’s behind the byline, not the one in the headline.”

Despite On Media’s many scoops, Gold feels that she needs “to do a better job getting sources” and she “never feel[s] like [she’s] sourced enough.” And like any good reporter, she’s always looking to better her work:

“There’s no one way to source people. Everyone has their own methods, and are constantly wanting to improve, because the best reporters are the best-sourced reporters.”

After we spoke, Gold published two more stories for On Media. All in a day’s work.

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