All Dan All The Time

All Dan All The Time

: Andrew Tyndall — who publishes a respected report on network news coverage — posts this in a comment below, reacting to my reaction to Glenn Reynolds’ post about blog (and thus media) coverage of scandals v issues. He starts quoting Glenn:

“If the Big Media were talking more about issues, and less — to pick RatherGate as the example which I think inspired this conversation — about Bush’s National Guard service, probably bloggers would be talking about issues more, too.”

As big a story as the 60 Minutes memos are in media circles and the blogosphere, it is flat out untrue that it has dominated campaign coverage in the aforesaid Big Media.

Last week on the three networks’ nightly newscasts combined (including CBS, which spent extended time to defending its own reporting), the memos accounted for less than one quarter of all Campaign 2004 coverage (14 minutes out of 61). The previous week–when the story broke–it was a similar small proportion (17 minutes out of 68). Our tracking data on campaign coverage is archived at

Valuable data. Is one quarter a lot?

  • Rathergate is about “the issues” in the sense that one of the major power players on the world stage — Big Media as represented by CBS — may have been insidiously trying to influence the outcome of the election of the Leader of the Free World. With issues like that, health care, soshcurity and such seem small potatoes.

  • Michael

    This doesn’t mean anything unless you know how much time a typical news show spends on any big story. Statistics have biases, too.

  • Hey, Mr. J. ‘Just caught you on Fox News. AWESOME!!!! You go, boy!

  • Charlie (Colorado)

    “Is one quarter a lot?”
    It is when you would rather it weren’t being mentioned at all.

  • Ric Locke

    Jeff, with all due respect, I’m gonna keep reading your blog, but with all your enthusiasm for “new media” vs. “old media” you are still clinging to Old Media’s mythology.
    The pattern is clear: if an issue hurts Bush, it’s “fair and balanced reporting on a vital issue of the day.” If it hurts Kerry, it’s “a mudslinging, annoying distraction from the real issues, which are [something that might hurt Bush].” Sometimes it’s nutball extremist versions, like Kos, Atrios, and Democratic Underground; sometimes it’s thoughtful, reasonable discussion of things that do in fact matter, as for example yourself. But what you’re doing is carrying on the pattern, and the pattern is: if it hurts Bush pursue it to the ends of the Earth; if it hurts Kerry, change the subject immediately. You probably aren’t even conscious of it. It’s just the Way Things Are.
    It’s not an issue, it’s a meta-issue. We cannot have a debate on the real issues if the conduit for the debate is corrupt, and the conduit (the MSM) is clearly not working correctly, whether or not “corrupt” is the correct characterization. That meta-issue is what many bloggers are debating, and you are illustrating the problem they see by trying anything you can come up with to change the subject.
    Ric Locke

  • Jeff, if 25% is given to this story, that means 75% was given to EVERYTHING ELSE, right? How many stories constitute the everything else? Does any other storyline even take up 5%? What I am saying is that by itself, 25% doesn’t sound like a lot, but if other stories are mentioned in passing, then 25% is a lot.

  • Tim

    I’d like to pick up on Ric Locke’s comments.
    I thought Jeff has been even-handed, or at least bipartisan, in his mud taxonomy (see 02/2004):
    “But I want to say this for the record:
    : I could not care less if John Kerry had an affair.
    : I could not care less that Bill Clinton did.
    : I could not care less if George Bush got light duty in the National Guard or got out early.
    : I could not care less if John Kerry threw away his medals or wore them or was next to Jane Fonda or wasn’t.
    : I could not care less that George Bush used to drink.
    : I could not care less if either of them burp or belch or masturbate or pick their noses or leave the seat up or have dandruff or pass on the right.
    I only care if they can do a decent job running the government and keeping us safe. That’s it. Even the presidency is just a job and I want someone who will do it well.”
    If there are competing interests in generating the outpouring, the heat, the volume, in the blogosphere to attract enough attention to an issue not being addressed (Lott, fake memos), does coverage of other issues really suffer? Or does the attention of blogreaders suffer by being focused on that issue, distracted from others?
    Who are bloggers covering these issues for? Themselves? They write what they want to write about, and take umbrage with reader’s comments that try to influence them. “I don’t want to become part of the outpouring. It’s mud throwing.”, might be something a blogger might say. I want to talk about something else. You don’t like it, start your own blog or go read someone else’s blog. Go read Gillmor, he thinks you’re smarter than he is. I do to, but only when you’re interested in what I’m interested in.
    But then, how much blogspace, blogfocus and frequency is required to cover “all” the issues and be a participant in an outpouring? For whom are bloggers writing about these issues? Why complain about other bloggers not writing about the “important” issues after complaining about reader comments that complain that you’re not writing about “important issues”; and defending yourself by saying you’ll write about what you want to write about.

  • Tim
  • Richard Cook

    I am a blog consumer and sometimes participant as this e-mail shows. I have heard about “the internet replacing big media” but only from a very small percentage of the blogosphere that I have seen. Most of the argument is that the internet and blogs would
    1) Keep MSM honest
    2) Act as an almost constant debating forum for the polis with inumerable debates occuring daily. And with the debates comes the inevitable linking up, excercise of power, etc.
    With blogs you actually have multiple sources vouched for by reputation so you, the consumer, actually have to work in balancing one blog against the other, known biases, “moonbat quotient”, etc. It involves work but the rewards are great. As a consumer of news I find when i use MSM for a pointer to an issue and fill it out with content from blogs, frankly, I have so much info debating with someone who gets all their info from MSM the debate quickly breaks down to “I don’t want to talk about it”. I have heard very little of this “blog triumphalism” around and what there has been has been squelched pretty successfully. Weblogs should not just focus on the issues. It should function like a vacuum cleaner and the consumer takes what he or she wants and throws back the rest.