Media, News, and the US Election (1)

As from this week, I'll try to regularly visit the topic of the role media in general and the news industry in particular plays in the American political campaigns and Presidential election of 2008. My focus, as always, will be on the professionals and practitioners (often unpaid volunteers) directly involved in covering the process one way or another, looking at what the news on these issues may tell us about media work and media life.

Via Michael Calderone's blog on Politico here's a great quote from an otherwise rather shallow (if not recognizable) column on UK's The Guardian website about the quality of the political coverage on US broadcast networks:
"Anything reported on the TV news instantly becomes something to be reported on."

Indeed - there is a documented trend of journalists increasingly covering themselves and each other, and this not necessarily to enhance self-critical and deeply reflective perspectives, but rather putting journalists and journalism much more center-stage.

You have all heard about the shrinking soundbyte... But did you ever wonder where all those other seconds of sound went? That's right: directly to the words of the reporters. Journalists and "experts" babbling endlessly among themselves and increasingly about themselves. It makes for cheap content - because no actual reporting is involved.

All of this is especially awkward considering declining ratings and sales figures for the news, as well as regarding the ongoing decline of public trust in most kinds of institutions, and particularly the news industry.