Sunday, September 04, 2005

Politics in Media

Another interesting discussion that I heard recently on public radio is called "Political Spectacles," on The Leonard Lopate Show. Guests Matt Taibbi and Alexandra Pelosi talk about the role of the media in the last presidential election. Taibbi is a journalist, and Pelosi directed Journeys with George.

They mention the "pecking order" among journalists traveling with the presidential candidates. As one might expect, the New York Times reporters get preferential access.

Another point is what the media focuses on, like the Dean Scream. Pelosi said the following:

"I always got the impression that the press corps really wanted to get page one above the fold. Like if you're a reporter covering the campaign, you want to make the paper. So I always thought that the reporters did things, took moments and tried to turn them into something so that they could get in the paper."

Referring to the bulge in the back of Bush's suit, Taibbi said the following:

"This whole blogger phenomenon has had an impact on the way the news is covered. In the old days, in order to get a story on the front page, you had to make sure it was true. Nowadays, all you have to do is cite some blogger who's running with a story. You can say, well, this Web site claims that it's a transmitter, so let's write a story about that story. It's an end run around the usual journalistic ethics where you have to actually confirm something before it's true."

Pelosi and Taibbi note that there are many journalists whom they respect. But Pelosi believes some journalists are "out of control" because they just want the byline, no matter how accurate or relevant their stories. In turn, these journalists are able to influence the way the public views the viability of each candidate.

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