There’s a story in Gawker — an internet news magazine launched in 2003 that promotes itself as the source of daily media news and gossip — about presidential candidates and their expenses for pizza.
It’s a story you won’t read anywhere else.
It’s a story that Gawker and its ilk are known to publish.
On the other hand, everyone (and I do mean everyone) is reporting that Donald Trump is nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders agreed to a New Hampshire debate, and the Republican establishment is toe stepping.
During milestone occasions such as presidential races I’m reminded of a 2009 op-ed in The Christian Science Monitor about the stagnancy of newspaper reporting and why a paradigm shift is imminent. Of note:
Journalism must innovate and create new means of gathering, processing, and distributing information so it provides content and services that readers, listeners, and viewers cannot receive elsewhere. And these must provide sufficient value so audiences and users are willing to pay a reasonable price.
…. One cannot expect newspaper readers to pay for page after page of stories from news agencies that were available online yesterday and are in a thousand other papers today. Providing a food section that pales by comparison to the content of food magazines or television cooking shows is not likely to create much value for readers. Neither are scores of disjointed, undigested short news stories about events in far off places.
…. The Boston Globe, for example, could become the national leader in education and health reporting because of the multitude of higher education and medical institutions in its coverage area. Not only would it make the paper more valuable to readers, but it could sell that coverage to other publications. Similarly, The Dallas Morning News could provide specialized coverage of oil and energy; The Des Moines Register could become the leader in agricultural news; and the Chicago Tribune in airline and aircraft coverage. Every paper will have to be the undisputed leader in terms of their quality and quantity of local news.
And yet, here we are in 2016 and every media outlet is sending teams of reporters, editors, anchors, and crew to every state as the candidates move around.
I recently created a Twitter list of people on the campaign trail with over 1,100 people and organizations as of today. There are occasional tweets from campaign staffers and PACs but the majority of content comes from media. The Washington Post, CNN, Slate, Los Angeles Times, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Politico, Mashable, ABC, CBS, NBC, Des Moines Register, Reuters, Huffington Post, The Nation, the list goes on…
I grasp the need to cover candidates 24/7 because you don’t want to follow breaking news. You want to be the source of breaking news. But when everyone is reporting the same content but only one source is reporting pizza expenses, there’s something there.
Consider this the first of a series of posts about media and politics until the country hires its next chief executive. Thoughts so far?