Monday, January 18, 2010

the media and policy\politics

Ken Auletta, a longtime analyst of the news media, has a fine article in The New Yorker. The abstract is here. I hope that the full text becomes freely available in a week or two.

While the article is mainly concerned with the Obama White House and its media relations, Auletta makes other points about government/media relations. He says the press' "dominant bias [is] not pro-liberal or pro-conservative but pro-conflict." The pressures for speedy reporting reinforce the reliance on he said/she said pieces, largely devoid of context or fact-checking.

Some matters deserve horse race reporting -- who's ahead, how are the others maneuvering. Electoral contests and legislative battles -- which have decisive, binary outcomes -- invite such coverage. But we citizens also deserve policy reports, not just political ones. The media have done a fair job of this on Afghanistan and on health care reform,but less well on most other major subjects.

An example of what is helpful is this piece on Haiti from today's New York Times discussing the tension between relief efforts and the proper U.S.role in long-term reconstruction.

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