NBC tracking: Romney, Gingrich and a squad of hungry embeds

In early December of 2011, NBC unveiled a partnership with check-in king foursquare to track the presidential candidates on the 2012 campaign trail. From the looks of it, many hours of design and code were put into this impressive project that promised to show the candidates trekking across America in real time.

The short of it being that if Rick Santorum dropped in on his NASCAR buddies in Daytona, there’d suddenly and magically be a blip marking his appearance. Or suppose Ron Paul spoke to a crowd of 1,700 in Oklahoma City, or Newt Gingrich pointed and grunted at the moon in Cape Canaveral, or Mitt Romney visited a factory in Flint to jokingly threaten to fire everyone — the world would know about such heroic public services thanks to the harnessed power of databases and the internet.

Jonathan Crowley, Director of Media Partnerships for foursquare, said “All politics is local, and foursquare is all about location; it’s the perfect way for politicians to communicate their actions to potential voters. Through this partnership with NBC News, we’re making it easy for people to keep up with all of the excitement on the campaign trail in real-time.” There was a considerable amount of press upon its launch, and all signs pointed to a win for foursquare.

Fast forward to how it’s currently going, nearly two months after the big announcement:

As you can see, what was once a competition between the remaining conservative contenders has morphed into a lop-sided contest of Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich pitted against the hungry horde of (at least) eight NBC reporters. The embedded journalists threatening to out-square them at their own game, with hopscotch airport check-ins and tales of travelicious food. “Thai curry grilled chicken sandwich, yum” Anthony Terrell writes, along with “Ahi tacos!” and “Stuffed French toast!” That’s some mouth-watering political reporting, NBC.

Our impromptu food blogger thoughtfully included a picture of the tacos:

While I am duly impressed with Terrell’s gastric feats on the campaign trail — along with the hundreds of reporter travel logs that read more like an FBI tracking protocol than campaign news reporting — I wonder if maybe something might be missing.

Something, important… the other candidates. And a bit of dignity to go with the taco blogging.

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