Friday, November 24, 2006

No News is ... No News (II)

Judging from the underwhelming number of comments to the first post of this title, I figure that the silence must be attributable to one of two things: a) the powers-that-be in the Anglican Continuum are not reading this blog or b) they are satisfied with the extent and quality of their exposure in the press.

There is, of course, at least one more possibility -- that they are reading and are concerned but choose not to comment. For the benefit of all two of you, here is a good set of pointers found on GetReligion:

So how do the journalistic “usual suspects” become the “usual suspects” who get rounded up in news report after news report?

1. Outright bias
The reporter has an agenda, and calls the expert he knows will give him the quote he wants to spin the story a certain way. If, for example, you want to make Evangelicals come across in a certain way, you will call Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell, even though their influence on the broad swath of Evangelicalism has long been waning.

2. Laziness, or expedience

No reporter can be expert in everything, and all reporters work under strict deadlines. Lots of times they’ll do a Google or a Nexis search to see which expert in which given field has been previously cited by reporters. “Norman Ornstein” turns up a lot. He’s an American Enterprise Institute scholar who knows a lot about Washington politics. Nothing wrong with his advice, but one reason he’s so widely quoted is . . . because he’s been so widely quoted.

3. Ignorance
This is closely related to No. 2. A reporter who means well, and who has the time to research a story, may be unaware of the nuances of a particular field, might not understand that the favored expert is not really expert. She’s going on past reputation as a guide to present expertise. The difference between this and No. 2 is that she really may be trying to do the best job she can, and not cut corners, but her ignorance of the subject area leads her to fall back on the usual suspects, thinking she’s gone to the leading expert.

4. Media-friendly sources
Nothing makes a source rise to the “must-call” list of a reporter faster than the source’s willingness to take the reporter’s call, or to call him back as soon as possible. Again, it’s a deadline thing. A lot of the experts you see quoted so often build up their reputation with the media by being helpful and accomodating. It’s hard to express to those not in the business how helpful that is to a reporter on deadline. (This is why it’s good to remember that if a reporter calls you for a quote, if you intend to speak to the reporter at all, call her back as soon as you can; she’s got a story to file, and if you don’t get back to her promptly, she’ll go to somebody else who will.)

These tips come from an article by Rod Dreher at Crunchy Con.


ACC Member said...

We definately need to put ourselves on the "call for a comment list" of the news media. Instead of money-hungry televangelists commenting for the conservative Christians wouldn't it be better for Anglican Bishops/Priests to be called for the comment? The Ted Haggard ordeal shows us just how dangerous it is to let the televangelist/mega-church types speak for Christians. The problem is this: How do we motivate our Bishops to either comment themselves or set up a PR Commission (of sorts) to handle this sort of thing?

Albion Land said...

"How do we motivate our Bishops to either comment themselves or set up a PR Commission (of sorts) to handle this sort of thing?"

Encourage them to read this blog and to read GetReligion.