Saturday, August 12, 2006

Washington Post Throwing a Hissy Fit

Increasingly, Bush Escapes the Media Pack The WaPo is now all bent out of shape because the White House is not scheduling a chartered plane for the press every time the President travels. While the media are charged for being on the plane, it is rarely full.
And so even for trips where there is a press plane, sometimes only a handful of journalists are on board. Newspapers that used to travel regularly, including USA Today, the Wall Street Journal, the Chicago Tribune and others, now do so more sporadically. The Boston Globe no longer even has a White House correspondent.
It is all about costs. The press doesn't have the money they had 20 years ago when they were the only game in town, and they just don't like it.

It isn't like the President really escapes the media. He still travels with the contingent on Air Force One.
Bush still always travels with a small media pool that includes wire services, television cameras and a single newspaper reporter who files a report to others left behind. The advent of instant video feeds, cable television, the Internet, e-mail and transcripts of the president's every public word has made it possible to cover Bush without being anywhere near him.
The problem is that times are changing and the media doesn't like that. They would much prefer a return to the days when the people only knew what the media reported. Those days are gone forever.

When Vice President Chenney had his hunting accident, the press was more disturbed about the fact that the news was not reported first to the NY Times, or the Washington Post, but was reported locally and went out on the wires. This pointed up another piece of importance being taken out of Big Media. Did we not get the story on this accident? Was something "hidden?" No. But the Washington press corps is used to being important (at least in their own minds) and they aren't really.

While the Post tries to paint this as a situation with dire consequences, it is really nothing more than a long whine about the changing nature of the media. When I can see the President give a speech - or listen - do I need to read what the Washington Post said about that speech? If I can't watch it in real-time, I can watch the video at a time of my choosing from one web-site or another, get the transcript and read it, etc. Why do I need a reporter/editor/columnist at the Post for anything? Because they understand the situation better or they can provide "context and texture" they claim I will miss by not being in the same room?

The truth is the news media can't afford to follow the President around, because the "context" they were providing for his speeches, his work and even his life was a load of Bovine Scatology. So bad was it, that "fake but accurate" was trotted out to explain away a piece of it that came to light. The "context" they provided was little but pure bias, and while they were able to get away with it 20 years ago, the miracle of modern technology has taken their monopoly away from them, and they aren't happy. As their bias became more apparent, their readers and viewers abandoned them, destroying their circulation, ratings and budgets. In other words, they made their bed, and are now unhappy they have to sleep in it.

The real issue is that we do still need the news media. I have pointed out before that most blog posts are a reaction to a news story or article (as this one is). We need reporters to follow the President around, interview him from time to time and ask questions. we just don't need them to do it in the ways they did in the past, and if they don't change their ways, they will probably not survive the realities of the current marketplace.

Do you want cheese with that whine?

No comments: