February 24, 2003

A must-read for political reporters…

Paul Waldman, associate director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania, offers us an excellent look at how and why political reporters/editors approach campaign coverage as they do. You’ll get to see how the structural biases constrain and dictate journalistic messages. For example:

…political reporters don’t like wide-open races. Instead, for their own reasons, they prefer a time-tested script with four primary categories of characters: the Mighty Front-Runner, the Charging Challenger, the Doomed Press Darling and the Assorted Afterthoughts. While not all the actors have been cast, the roles themselves are set. There will be the usual twists and turns along the way, but the plot’s narrative varies little from election to election.

I contend that journalism is an under-theorized practice. That means that many people practice it without asking enough “why” questions. Waldman attempts to answer some of these questions regarding the evolution of political reporting. Now we need for reporters and editors to begin asking themselves why they continue some of these practices. (via MediaMinded)

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