Sunday, September 23, 2012

Reporters, not Candidates Ignore the Issue

There's an excellent article from the AP hightlighted on on how the presidential campaigns are ignoring the crucial issue of climate change.

But it's not the candidates who ignore this issue, it's reporters in market after market after market.
That's not the fault of reporters.   Reporters learn in a hurry not to suggest stories management doesn't want.   This story is too important to ignore.

Without question, there has been a candidate or two who has addressed climate change, and that gets reported because the press is really good at stenography.   But each and every member of Congress should be held accountable on this issue.  The fact that they aren't isn't a failure of reporting as much as it is a failure of management. 

It's difficult for any editor or news director examining page views and ratings to think that reporting on climate change is more important than covering Sunday's game.   It's the sports clips that drive page views.   But if we don't do such a great job covering the game, it really doesn't matter.   If we fail to cover climate change it does.  

Top corporate management at Scripps, Gannett, Belo and the rest need to make sure their news organizations focus on issues that matter, not blather that doesn't.   When journalism fails, bad things happen.   And failing on this issue will be really bad for generations to come.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Where's the WHY?

With attacks in Libya, Egypt and Yemen, why is there not more reporting on the WHY?   There appears to have been planning and coordination.   What we're seeing is not as simple as a response to a film trailer.   

In the United States at the time of the takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Iran, there was understandable outrage at the taking of American hostages.   There was little understanding or reporting on the why.   Every family in Iran was aware of American foreign policy; Iranians knew the CIA had orchestrated a coup to overthrow the leader of the country and install the Shah, a ruthless dictator who imprisoned or tortured or murdered political opponents.   Few American citizens shared that knowledge.   They did not realize it was the United States that was responsible for installing a ruthless dictator.

Following 911, understandably the citizens rallied around the flag.   Indeed, the United States had an opportunity for support of nearly the entire world community.   It was an opportunity to understand the why, and it was an opportunity wasted for world understanding.  For the most part, the press ignored the why and the why certainly was not what President Bush said.  911 did not happen because "they hate our freedoms."   Rather than examine the why, much of the American press just played human microphone stand. 

In a war of any kind, it's important to understand the enemy.   Understanding the enemy requires and demands an examination of the why. 

Zbigniew Brzezinski examines the why in Stategic Vision.   Unfortunately, there won't be much an examination of the why by the networks.   Why takes time, takes resources, takes thought, takes more than a freelance stringer, takes more than a Tweet or a Facebook post.  

When journalism fails, bad things happen.