Style over Substance: Jay Rosen on why political coverage is broken

Jay Rosen (with whom I got to work on a project when I was at Newstrust) is in Australia today giving the keynote address at New News 2011, part of the Melbourne Writers Festival, co-sponsored by the Public Interest Journalism Foundation at Swinburne University of Technology. He's posted "Why Political Coverage is Broken" and I'm looking forward to reading this closely and commenting in detail.  (Right now I'm on deadline on a North Anna piece).

In politics, our journalists believe, it is better to be savvy than it is to be honest or correct on the facts. It's 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.)

One of his examples is Texas Governor and presidential aspirant Rick Perry's assertion that climate change is a hoax (a story that's been leading Memeorandum, which is why I find that site less than helpful for identifying good reading (v.s. trendy reading.)

Rosen calls this  “verification in reverse” and asks about this whole thing of capitalizing on the creation of a political controversy over established facts.

How should political journalists stand toward this technique?...As savvy insiders who know how the game is played and need to maintain their innocence? If they do that, and verification in reverse grows and succeeds, it will be the equivalent of running over the press with a truck. Journalism will become superfluous.

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