Tuesday, March 27, 2007

reporting on reporting

I found this from Atrios to be insightful:

Adding to the post below about reporting/talking, campaign journalism is an area which is just filled with hackery. There's really no way to do interesting "straight reporting" about campaigns, aside from polls and hirings/firings. It's almost intrinsically "talking about the news" instead of reporting on it. So campaign journalism is part highly subjective narrative, part gossip, part anonymous backbiting, part reporter projection, part quoting sources with major conflicts of interest, part unrepresentative "man on the street interviews," etc. If I ran a newspaper, campaign reporting is the area where I'd begin chucking out the entire model of "balanced journalism" and recognize it for what it ineivtably is, a highly subjective description of what's going on. Reporters hide behind all the various devices given to them to try to take themselves out of the narrative, but ultimately they really are just creating the very subjective narrative they wish to create. So, drop the pretense and bring the reporter's voice forward.

Campaign reporting of the sort you might read in the Times is typically a glorified version of the type of “reporting on reporting” that you get when a celebrity story has burned through the tabloids for a week or so and the Times decides it wants a piece of the grubby action without getting its wingtips dirty. A few days into the Anna Nicolle story or Britney’s latest shenanigans or whatever latest hot news that isn’t “real news”, the Times will do a story on how other outlets are covering this bit of non-news and how excited people who don’t know any better seem to be about it. These attempts to hover above the fray while transparently cashing in on the salacity of the story are quite silly. Likewise, political reporters aspiring to be bloodless, opinionless automatons of objectivity only manage to deceive both the reading public and themselves that they are not part of the story, too.

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