I’ve never been fond of long discussions about what newsrooms shouldn’t be covering. Let’s get to everything we can, and let readers tune out or ignore what they don’t find relevant to them.
I don’t typically get pissed off listening to National Public Radio.
And while doubting its overall contribution to society, I am a personal follower of the kind of “horse race journalism” that smart people such as Jay Rosen decry. Give me Politico and polling numbers 24-7. I am a political process junkie.
But this morning was an exception on all of those counts.
On my morning commute, I suffered through a lengthy (for broadcast format) NPR piece all about how President Obama wanted to speak before Congress about his new jobs plan next Wednesday, but House Speaker John Boehner wanted the speech to be held on Thursday, presumably because a long-scheduled and nationally televised Republican primary presidential debate was scheduled for the same night. And how the Obama administration didn’t want to have the speech on Thursday because it conflicts with the first game of the NFL season.
I kept waiting, waiting … waiting for there to be more to the story than that, but there wasn’t. And not a mention of the potential substance of a jobs plan, or the reason the president needs to have one. And then the issue was raised two more times during my commute … apparently as a core part of NPR’s periodical news headlines update for the morning.
I’m understanding more and more why Rosen is so focused on the horse race journalism question and why he believes it is so bad for our country.
Of course, it gets into a chicken-and-egg conversation. Does the media behave this way because the audience is yearning for it, or does the audience feed into it because the media is behaving this way? The Politico story on the speech scheduling flap, as of 9:30 a.m., had 1,995 comments from readers.