The media coverage of the US presidential campaign for 2012 has been intensifiying.
In fact, according to the Pew Research Centre, it was the third most reported story of 2011, even before a single vote is cast.
And it was Herman Cain, who is no longer running for president, who dominated the political coverage. Cain made several gaffes, burst into impromptu song and provided a sex scandal.
"I think that it's true about Ron Paul, that we've all been cheated and the ignorance about Ron Paul has driven, in large parts, the results in Iowa right now. We know that that's a product of people not being aware, not only of the racist pieces in his newsletter but of his social Darwinist approach toward government."
- Rocky Anderson, US 2012 presidential candidate
Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich were all also in the top 20 newsmakers of the year. Even Donald Trump and Sarah Palin, neither of whom are contesting, made their way to the top 20 list.
However, Ron Paul, a Republican candidate often dismissed as a fringe figure, yet he is leading in the Iowa polls in the first test of the Republican field.
Given that third-party candidates receive little or no coverage in the mainstream media, Paul has actually registered among US news editors, even though the coverage itself has been quite mocking.
And similar to how the US military allows some journalists to be "embedded" with them, some media networks now "embed" journalists with the election campaigns.
In fact, they tout the term "embedded" as a virtue, even though it was originally a way for the military to censor and limit coverage.
So, are political reporters for the mainstream media 'insiders' with the campaigns? And if a journalist is an insider, can they do their job?
Inside Story US 2012, discusses with guests: Amy Goodman, a broadcast journalist and the host of Democracy Now!, an independent global news programme; Rocky Anderson, a 2012 presidential candidate for the newly-formed Justice Party and the former mayor of Salt Lake City; and Eleanor Clift, a journalist for Newsweek and a former White House correspondent.
Source: Al Jazeera