Do your homework, don’t worry about losing access
DISCUSSIONS | May 22, 2006
2000 Nieman fellow; Visiting Assistant Professor of English, Case Western Reserve University
I think the most important thing the media can do to serve the people's interest is to cover issues rather than events. And to do their own homework rather than rely on the talking points given to them by the opposing parties. I think the media's coverage of the Swift Boat attack and the flip-flop issue was a disgrace. Reporters were so afraid of being cut off from future access that they forgot to take advantage of the access that they did have. I remember Newsweek did a whole issue on behind-the-scenes coverage AFTER the election. My reaction was, "too little, too late."
I think we have to move away from the "sexy" topics and do relentless pieces on hard-core issues. These can be presented in a way that still retains its human interest appeal. We can tell real stories about real people when it comes to the Iraq war, health care, immigration, the minimum wage debate, housing prices, gas prices, gay rights etc., etc.
Do not let Karl Rove (and his Democratic equivalent, if such a person exists) set the agenda--it is up to the media to set the tone and the agenda, based on what issues genuinely affect people's lives and affect the very soul of this country. I know that what I'm suggesting is not easy for any number of reasons but I also know that it is possible--and indeed, necessary.