Institute of Politics

Jessica Yellin

Former CNN Chief White House Correspondent

  • Fall 2015 Pritzker Fellow

  • Seminar Series: "What’s Wrong With the News? Ratings, Click Bait & the Search for Meaning in Political Coverage"


Jessica Yellin is the former Chief White House correspondent for CNN and an award-winning political journalist reporting for CNN, ABC News, and MSNBC. She began her broadcasting career at Central Florida News 13. She has interviewed Presidents Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, and George HW Bush; First Ladies Michelle Obama and Laura Bush; and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Yellin began covering President Obama during his Iowa campaign in 2008. In 2012 she produced and anchored a documentary on President Obama’s first term, which was featured prominently throughout the campaign cycle. Yellin has covered Capitol Hill, domestic politics, state and national elections, the culture wars and issues facing women in the workplace.

Her work has been published in The New York Times, Details, Entertainment Weekly and The Los Angeles Times. She is now writing a book and serving as a fellow at the USC Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership and Policy and as a Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Pacific Council on International Policy.


"What’s Wrong With the News? Ratings, Click Bait & the Search for Meaning in Political Coverage"

Ask a news producer why Donald Trump gets so much coverage, and she won’t hesitate to tell you, “He rates.” Dig deeper and you’ll find many newsrooms are focused less on a story’s editorial merit and more on finding stories that will draw eyeballs and generate buzz. This is particularly true of television political coverage during a presidential year. Political reporters are urged to find stories “that travel,” guests who will “bring the heat” and scripts that “have stakes,” "feel relatable" and “pop.” What’s lost? An explanation of the issues, an appreciation for nuance and complexity, and a shared public dialogue about what matters to voters. Why does the media focus on micro-scandals, outrage, and rhetoric in our political coverage? How has this bias for “high stakes,” “sexy” news impacted the way politicians communicate? Is the media responsible for making the electorate less informed, or are the people simply getting what they want? We’ll discuss these issues and the best way forward.

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