‘Never has it been so easy to expose an error, check a fact, crowdsource and bring technology to bear in service of verification.’
Craig Silverman, Nieman Reports. A New Age for Truth.
This is all very true and we recommend reading what he has to say.
Unfortunately, we also recommend reading Jay Rosen’s recent article, If Mitt Romney were running a “post-truth” campaign, would the political press report it?
His answer, unsurprisingly, is no, no it wouldn’t.
Can we talk about the nonsense of caring about which news outlet first reports a big piece of news? I’m not talking about a genuine scoop—a report that wouldn’t have otherwise come to light—but about news that we’re all eventually going to find out anyway. Who Mitt Romney selects to be his running-mate, for instance, or whether the Supreme Court upheld the individual mandate.
I know I’m often out-of-the-loop when it comes to journalism norms and conventions, but this one honestly confounds me. Has any publication ever received a Pulitzer for being the first to report a major announcement? Is there some secret reward at stake—free cookies for a year? A trip to Hawaii? Do colleagues buy you a drink to congratulate you on beating the other networks by ten seconds?
Because if this is just about bragging rights, it needs to stop. Now. And not just because it can lead to some outlets rushing to report incorrect information, as CNN and FOX did with the recent Supreme Court decision on health care reform. But because the race to be first is no longer just a feature of news coverage but often the main factor driving it.
Amy Sullivan, The New Republic. Who Reported It First? Who Cares?
With the Supreme Court about to announce their decision on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act our (mostly cable) media were chomping at the bit to be first out of the gate with some BREAKING NEWS.
CNN, as we know, fell flat on its face. It’s been struck down, they reported incorrectly. Their amplification machine went into overdrive with banner headlines on CNN.com and posts on social media until Wolf Blitzer — in a purely Wolf Blitzer moment — helpfully illuminated us all.
“It’s getting a little more complicated,” he said.
As Sullivan points out: “His remark, of course, referred to the network’s own coverage. The court’s decision couldn’t have gotten more complicated because it was final, set down on paper.”
Sullivan’s article is well worth the read. Yes, there’s some importance to speed, she writes, but the media focuses too much on getting it first on too many stories where getting it first really isn’t important. Like, say, a Supreme Court announcement that everyone will hear about when it’s actually announced.
If the topic interests you, check out her follow-up. And if your journo-geekery runs real deep, head over to SCOTUSblog where Tom Goldstein walks 7,000 plus words through a minute by minute account of how CNN and Fox got their reporting wrong, and how the whole media scrum works in cases such as this.
The backwardness of political cartoons is especially evident when you compare them to the bounty of new forms of graphical political commentary on the Web. My Facebook and Twitter feeds brim with a wide variety of political art — biting infographics, hilarious image macros, irresistible Tumblrs (e.g., Kim Jong-il Looking at Things), clever Web comics, and even poignant listicles. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a traditional political cartoon appear on my various social-media channels…
…This isn’t surprising. Editorial cartoons were born in the era of newspapers, and while they now regularly appear on the Web—including in Slate—they remain stuck in the static, space-constrained, caricaturist mind-set of newsprint. The Pulitzers began awarding a prize for cartoons in 1922, and other than a few notable exceptions — Garry Trudeau’s Doonesbury in 1975, Berkeley Breathed’s Bloom County in 1987, and Mark Fiore’s animated cartoons in 2010 — the overwhelming majority of its awards have gone to traditional, single-panel cartoonists. It’s time for the Pulitzers to look past this old-fashioned medium and include graphics that are better attuned to this century.
My first suggestion would be for the committee to recognize infographics and interactive visualizations. Like most political cartoons, infographics are rarely funny. Unlike most political cartoons, the best infographics tend to pack a wallop.
Farhad Manjoo, Slate. Editorial Cartoons Are Stale, Simplistic, and Just Not Funny: The Pulitzer committee should honor slide shows, infographics, and listicles instead.
I don’t think the Pulitzer’s should abandon the editorial cartoon but absolutely agree there should be a new category for graphical stories. — Michael
When I first got here and was watching the page one meeting, I’d watch them decide what were going to be the six most important stories in the western world for the following day’s paper. Meanwhile the web’s above their heads, where all stories are becoming interchangeable. I thought, ‘Oh, this is so silly to blow a whistle and say, “Stop! These are the stories worth your attention.’”
But now that I’m bathed in information every single day and stuff is wooshing by me, I kind of love the full-stop arrangement of stories on The New York Times. A lot of times I wake up and think about the day that’s just passed and wonder, ‘What was that? What happened?’ A lot of stuff, and I can’t really tell which part of it was important.