Really good examination of the political media, with some ideas on how to fix it. This is actually from his keynote address in Australia yesterday, so there are Aussie references, also. But I don't think there is a finer critic of the press than Professor Rosen. This piece is long, and I'll only highlight a few things. Why Political Coverage is Broken *snip* I then mentioned the ABCs Sunday morning program, The Insiders. And I asked Leigh Sales if it was true that the insiders were, on that program, the journalists. She said: That is right. I said: Thats remarkable. She well, she changed the subject. And let me add right away that Leigh Sales is one of the most intelligent journalists I have ever had the pleasure to meet. So this is my theme tonight: how did we get to the point where it seems entirely natural for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation to describe political journalists appearing on its air as the insiders? Dont you think thats a little strange? I do. Promoting journalists as insiders in front of the outsiders, the viewers, the electorate . this is a clue to whats broken about political coverage in the U.S. and Australia. Heres how I would summarize it: Things are out of alignment. Journalists are identifying with the wrong people. Therefore the kind of work they are doing is not as useful as we need it to be. Part of the problem was identified by Lindsay Tanner in his book, Sideshow: Dumbing Down Democracy. He points out how often the Australian press reframes politics as entertainment, seizing on trivial episodes that amuse or titillate and then blowing them up until they start to seem important. Im not going to dwell on this because Tanner has it well covered. So did my mentor in graduate school, Neil Postman, in his 1985 classic, Amusing Ourselves to Death. From a TV programmers point of view the advantage of politics-as-entertainment is that the main characters, the politicians themselves, work for free! The media doesnt have to pay them because taxpayers do. The sets are provided by the government, the plots by the party leaders, back benchers and spin doctors. Politics as problem-solving or consensus-building would be more expensive to cover. Politics as entertainment is simply a low cost alternative. *snip* Three impoverished ideas: 1. Politics as an inside game. 2. The cult of savviness. 3. The production of innocence. *snip* The cult of savviness. In the United States, most of the people who report on politics arent trying to advance an ideology. But I think they have an ideology, a belief system that holds their world together and tells them what to report about. Its not left, or right, or center, really. Its trickier than that. The name Ive given to the ideology of our political press is savviness. And I see it in Australia too. When you watch political journalists on a roundtable program summing up the week and looking ahead, what they are usually performing for us is their savviness. So let me explain what I mean by that term. In politics, our journalists believe, it is better to be savvy than it is to be honest or correct on the facts. Its better to be savvy than it is to be just, good, fair, decent, strictly lawful, civilized, sincere, thoughtful or humane. Savviness is what journalists admire in others. Savvy is what they themselves dearly wish to be. (And to be unsavvy is far worse than being wrong.) Savviness is that quality of being shrewd, practical, hyper-informed, perceptive, ironic, with it, and unsentimental in all things political. And what is the truest mark of savviness? Winning, of course! Or knowing who the winners are. To the people inside it, savviness is not a cult. It is not a professional church or belief system. They would probably reject my terms. But they would say that journalists need to be savvy observers because in politics the unsavvy are hapless, clueless, deluded, clownish, or in some cases extreme. The unsavvy get run over: easily. They get disappointed: needlessly. They get angryfruitlesslybecause they dont know how things really work. *snip* A lot more, including his suggestions on a fix, which are excellent.