Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Newspapers relegated to covering TV spots

Are newspapers trying to make themselves irrelevant in covering political campaigns, or are they doing it accidentally?

Case in point: Today's Journal Sentinel, with a 26-column-inch story on the governor's race. It devoted the headline and the first 16 inches to the new television commercials launched by Rep. Mark Green and Gov. Jim Doyle, complete with descriptions of the footage and analysis from a political "scientist."

The story says Doyle's ad is "firing back" at Green on the budget deficit. But Green has never run an ad on the deficit. In fact, until today he hadn't run any commercials at all. The reporters apparently think Doyle's ad is responding to Green press releases which no one read or printed. I don't think so.

Maybe it's just me, but I'd rather watch a television commercial than read about it. And I certainly don't need to do both. I don't see many TV stations doing stories about newspaper advertising.

The end of today's story, if anyone got past the jump and read that far, discussed Green's "70% solution" to force schools to spend more money in the classrooms -- a plan, the story noted, that's under fire from the national PTA, among others.

Green, by the way, was "campaigning Monday and not available for comment," his campaign manager said. And the newspaper let him get away with it. He used to say he was "beyond cell phone range" and couldn't be reached. Now he won't talk to the state's biggest paper when he's "campaigning?"

But I digress. Back to the coverage of the race.

Here's what it boils down to:

1. Stories about how much money the candidates have raised.

2. Stories about who gave them the money.

3. Stories about who's ahead in the polls.

4. Stories about what commercials are running on TV.

And, oh, yes, there are some issue comparisons about where Doyle and Green stand. On Monday, it contrasted their stands on the death penalty. Not in the newspaper, of course; wouldn't want to waste the space. It's online. Maybe, they say, some of the issues will get in the paper closer to the election, now 84 days away.

In the meantime, brace yourself for some editorials about how the candidates aren't discussing the issues.


At 10:59 AM, Blogger tom47 said...

"Firing back"

I think the implication was even worse than you suggest. As I read the piece Doyle's ad was in response to the Green ad. Yeah I know it is crazy but it clearly said he was responding and I know nothing of Green's press releases.

What happened to editors who used to require that news stories made sense?

By the way, what position is Steve Walters hoping to get in the Green administration?

At 6:55 PM, Blogger Owen said...

2 thoughts...

1) What are you complaining about? This only means that more readers will be turning to the blogosphere for actual coverage.

2) Remember that many of the campaign finance initiatives advocated by the Left would silence independent folks from commenting on elections, thus leaving it up to the newspapers and TV stations to cover races. Is that really a good idea?


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