Saturday, June 16, 2007

Who's Ahead? Jay Rosen...

Jay Rosen over at Press Think is a writer I admire for good clear writing and a propensity to look outside the ordinary press models. His article "Who's Ahead? No, Seriously..." takes issue with the decades old horse race model of political reporting, he'd much rather have a who's ahead in ideas race or poll. He believes the model is used as both an 'objective journalism' tool and because it's easy. (there's more to it, but I'm not going to re-write his superior writing) He also believes it has outlasted its usefulness.

I happen to agree with all his reasons for distaste for the model, and another of my own, it is by definition inaccurate, especially this time around. It is a snapshot taken at a nearly meaningless moment and taken to mean considerably more than it possibly could. As an example, Hillary leads the race by having 36% (or so) among 8 candidates and this means what? Does it mean 64% do not like Hillary? Does it mean 64% just happen to like some other more than Hillary? Does it mean the Clinton name trumps "X" or that woman trumps man or that her votes and policy statements trump? If any of those are so why and by how much and what is reasonably disregarded?

Jay's proposal cuts around these questions and actually informs. I want to know what (in this case) Democratic Americans are thinking. I'm not in the least interested in a beauty pagent, I don't care if you could "land a 747" on Mitt's shoulders and I don't care that Hillary is named Clinton. Our version of political reportage has become so bloodlessly 'objective' in the sense of putting whatever knuckle head will take an opposing view that it is meaningless and talking about a physical attribute makes as much sense.

Well, there's some good writing over there and some ideas so click on over...

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