October 16, 2002

’02 really about ’04…

Howard Kurtz says the ’02 campaign is really about the ’04 campaign because the press is more interested in the big contest. He says:

At this point, the next White House contest is personality-driven: Will Al challenge George again? Will Joe break his promise to Al? Will Dick leave the House for another try? Is John from North Carolina a fresher face than John from Massachusetts?

The current campaign, by contrast, is issue-driven: Will Iraq trump the economy? Can the Democrats exploit Social Security privatization? Does anyone still care about prescription drugs?

No wonder many media outlets seem more interested in the election two years down the road than the one at hand, which by the way will determine who controls Congress.

Hmmmm…are those really issues Kurtz identifies, or are they personality-driven press master narratives? Notice how he frames the questions in the second paragraph. He personifies Iraq by asking if it will trump the economy–a conflict with drama and characters. Then, can the Democrats exploit privatization? What about what Democrats (or Republicans) propose and the effects those proposals might have on citizens if enacted? As for the final question: Well, perhaps seniors care. Maybe we need to put some senior reporters on that beat. It seems Kurtz is urging reporters to look for the personality-driven drama in the ’02 campaign.

October 15, 2002

Do-nothing campaign…

Howard Kurtz takes a look at The Do-Nothing Campaign.

October 15, 2002

Feeding the fear…

Are the news media feeding the fear of the beltway sniper? One might ask: How can they help it? Joan Ryan speculates:

Some journalists say they’re keeping the public informed in the hopes someone out there connects the dots and identifies the killer. (It ultimately worked with the Unabomber, when his brother recognized familiar phrases in the bomber’s published manifesto.) So public-interest coverage makes sense for Washington-area media. But the national news outlets can’t make the case that a viewer in, say, Los Angeles might help capture a killer 3,000 miles away.

It’s all about entertainment, feeding the beast called market share. And while this serial killer gets so much air time, even on the political shows, other important news gets squeezed out.

The beltway sniper is certainly big news in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area. And, to an extent, the sniper is big news nationally. But should this killer be getting nearly 24/7 coverage from the all-news networks? Where’s the balance?

October 14, 2002

White House news control…

White House Keeps a Grip on Its News That the Bush administration is tight-fisted with information is no surprise. The first president Bush also controlled the flow of information to an extent that annoyed reporters. Subsequent studies of the first Bush presidency have cited such secrecy as a problem that ultimately had political costs. Bush Jr. has added a new twist: Ari Fleischer.

October 14, 2002

Beltway sniper and the news cycle…

Howard Kurtz continues to follow the press coverage of the beltway sniper. The coverage of these crimes illustrates the damage to journalism caused by TV’s voracious 24-hour news cycle. Last night on CNN I watched a series of interviews with reporters on the scene about their impressions of the events. It seems very few people find this strange any longer.

October 4, 2002

Dearth of “left” bloggers…

When it comes to blogging, it appears that the left is choking on the right’s dust. Why? I have an answer, or, rather, George Lakoff has an answer in his book Moral Politics. The short, over-simplified version is: The political right has, over the past 30 years or so, developed a consistent message in keeping with a conservative moral vision. The left, in keeping with its own moral vision, has a more difficult time creating a unified message. Why? Read Lakoff’s book or this web site.

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