Thursday, February 16, 2006

Barone Answer

Why no coverage of the Iraqi mayor's letter? Why almost no coverage of the Gore speech in Saudi Arabia? Why the incessant coverage of the Cheney shooting? Michael Barone has a good answer--one that explains how bias affects the news:

Why do the mainstream media ignore such interesting stories? A long time ago, David Broder, in his book Behind the Front Page, explained that reporters tend to look for the story where they think it is. Time is limited, resources are limited, and so like an intelligent hockey player you go to where you think the puck is headed. And where you think the puck is headed depends on how you think the world works, where you think history is headed.
I think the Cheney story is fantastic for comedy--as long as the shootee lives--and I really think the American people do not care beyond the jokes.


dcat said...

If you or I shot someone, accidentally of course, and took twelve or so hours to report it to authorities, and did not have the legal documents lined up for the hunting we were doing, and if we admittedly had even one drink at lunch, do you think there would be consequences. Beyond, I mean, a national television interview? I can safely say that the twelve hour reporting delay alone would get you a nice, cozy discussion with a police officer and a strong need for a lawyer. This is news.
As for the letter from the mayor, I'm not sure why it ought to be huge news -- I thought Big tent had fairly clearly established that one man's opinion is not necessarily of that much significance. Surely you feel that way about anti-war anecdotes.
As for the Gore speech, not to put too fine a point on it, but please tell me where it was not reported. The Boston Globe, washington post, New York Times, Dallas Morning news and South African mail and Guardian all had pieces on it. maybe just by coincidence, only the newspapers I read placed the story, and every other news site in the world avoided it. In fact, a quick google search (it took .21 seconds according to Google -- but maybe they are part of a larger conspiracy) indicates that EVERYBODY covered the speech.
In other words: the very question "why do the mainstream media ignore such interesting stories" is factually wrong. They don't. It is a lie to assert that they do. (By the way, what, precisely, is the "mainstream media"? No one has yet answered this question for me successfully).


Tom said...

No one said the Cheney shooting wasn't news. The delay in reporting it to reporters--not authorities, the Secret Service said they contacted the local sheriff 70 minutes after the accident, and the guy was at the hospital within an hour and a half of the shooting--is not news.

The difference is that lots of antiwar anecdotes get reported in the news. I'm sure a news search from when Tal Afar was not peaceful will come up withhundreds of stories about that stuff. It seems only fair that when there is success in a place where setbacks have been heavily recorded that some evidence of the success be reported.

As far as the Gore speech goes, I did multiple Google News searches. I'm sure the NY Times and Boston Globe covered the speech somewhere, but it's not on Google. There was one article from the Washington Post. A news search for "gore" came up with 6,840 hits and took .13 seconds--maybe a quarter of the hits I saw had something to do with the speech, and almost all of those came from conservative op-eds ("gore saudi arabia" got 275 hits in .03 seconds, one of those hits was to the Cheney shooting and the 4,654 related stories). A former vice-president and presidential candidate makes a major speech with highly questionable assertions and almost no reporters--certainly none from the Times, Globe, or Post--think it is worth exploring in detail? What do experts think of Gore's assertions? Was he speaking for the Democratic party? What was the reaction from the audience? What has been the reaction since his words were reproduced in the Muslim world? That is a story being ignored.