Saturday, September 02, 2006

Law of Journalism Broken

Steve M. at No More Mister Nice Blog makes an excellent point:

This is a remarkable accomplishment by the Bush administration: It's been able to repeal a herotofore inviolate law of law of journalism. "If it bleeds, it leads" -- that's not true anymore. In Iraq (and certainly in Afghanistan), if it bleeds, it doesn't lead. It's consigned to a quick sentence in a broadcast news summary or the inner pages of the morning paper. Hundreds of deaths and injuries a week are a footnote. Empty bombast gets the banner headlines.

Now the law is: If it orates from a balcony, it leads.

Not only are the speeches getting more prominent coverage than the fighting, but the announcement that the speeches were going to take place got more prominent coverage. This is nuts.

The press is under no obligation to treat the administrations ever more hysterical rhetorical variations on the same old themes as front-page news. By agreeing to do so, the press is as part of the GOP's campaign media operation -- and it's encouraging more and more irresponsible rhetoric.

Put these speeches on page A14. Put the troops on page 1.

I grew up during the Vietnam War in a small Iowa town with a daily newspaper. Even though the paper was largely filled with news about who was visiting whom, who had traveled where, and who was admitted to or released from the hospital, news of death and injuries always made the front page. Every day.

When was the last time you read a front-page story about the war in Iraq? Afghanistan? Know how many Americans were killed there this week?