The choices those controlling the microphones, printing presses, TV cameras and webpages make when covering elections and government profoundly affect whether we get involved or stay on the sidelines.
In a webinar discussion on political coverage done with the National Center for Media Engagement, I may have gone overboard trying to deliver that message.
But read this Politico story on an ex-NPR Congressional reporter’s frustrations with day-to-day coverage of the Hill. Andrea Seabrook said:
I realized that there is a part of covering Congress, if you’re doing daily coverage, that is actually sort of colluding with the politicians themselves because so much of what I was doing was actually recording and playing what they say or repeating what they say… I feel like the real story of Congress right now is very much removed from any of that, from the sort of theater of the policy debate in Congress, and it has become such a complete theater that none of it is real
Seabrook said that the explanatory work of what Washington actions “really mean” got shoved aside by the day-to-day chasing of the dominant DC narrative. So she left NPR to work on a website that will unpack Washington policy. She’ll focus on stories that “none of the other reporters have time to cover.”
But here is the question: Why don’t large news organizations give them the time to cover that? Do they unconsciously pursue the DC stories the way they were always covered? Shouldn’t they make a conscious choice to go in a different, voter-driven direction?