With Deadlines Past, a Journalist Observes the Coverage

Mears, Walter R.
March 2004
Nieman Reports;Spring2004, Vol. 58 Issue 1, p10
This article offers insights regarding political campaigns and political journalism in the U.S. Background and explanation is one of the things that print media can provide, which is seldom a part of the radio and television coverage. After retiring from reporting and writing political news, the author observes more clearly the impact of starting-point assumptions on campaign coverage. For instance, Howard Dean's opponents call him the hostile candidate and in time, the coverage was treated not as an accusation but as a fact. When images and accusations become part of the campaign shorthand, the coverage suffers. When the author reads a story and encounters factual error, he stop reading, because he believed that if the writer cannot take the time to check the record and get his/her facts straight, it is unnecessary to read his/her coverage. Background facts, names and numbers help make coverage authoritative. Many reporters who are covering the 2004 campaign face several problems. There are simply too many of them, or at least too many people who claim to be covering the story for somebody. It makes legitimate reporting more difficult, and it also distorts the campaign, especially in the early estates, Iowa and New Hampshire.


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