Media Moves

It's the economy, stupid

January 2, 2008

Posted by Chris Roush

Columbia Journalism Review sent out an e-mail to subscribers and readers Wednesday announcing the relaunch of its Campaign Desk to critique media coverage of the 2008 presidential election.

Columbia Journalism ReviewBut noticeably absent from the e-mail was any mention of looking at coverage of the economy — like housing prices, or the subprime mortgage mess, or the stock market, or unemployment, or a dozen other issues that the candidates have and will continue to talk about — in their critique.

The e-mail, in part, stated, “We’ll look at who’s doing interesting, original reporting and who’s being taken in by spin; we’ll focus on how and why the narratives that come to define a candidate get started and relentlessly repeated, and if they are off base, we’ll try to set them straight. We’re on the lookout for misleading statistics, partial truths and oversimplifications, glittering generalities, and other language crimes that can infect the coverage. We’re also on the lookout for great reporting and discourse.

“We’ll send our people on the road, for a look inside the sausage factory. We’ll identify the questions that are not being asked, and issues that are not being discussed.

“Our experienced staff writers from CJR.org will focus largely on these issues and themes:

*Liz Cox Barrett on politics on television.

*Curtis Brainard on the environment and energy;

*Gal Beckerman on culture issues and faith;

*Megan Garber on education and gender issues;

*Clint Hendler on immigration and race;

*Paul McCleary on the wars and the military;

*In addition, we are joined by Trudy Lieberman, a longtime CJR contributor and the president of the board of directors of the Association of Health Care Journalists, on the health-care debate.”

Notice anything missing? It’s the economy, stupid. It’s even more embarrassing when you consider that Columbia’s journalism school also runs the Knight-Bagehot program for business and economics reporters in addition to publishing Campaign Desk.

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