So why do reporters keep reaching to assign significance to these races, even as they acknowledge it may not be there? Any answer to that question is itself speculative, but here’s one idea: it just makes politics more fun. Much as sports fans create extra meaning for games by seeing every choke or victory in moral terms, political journalists make elections more meaningful by threading them into a broader narrative. (This process is facilitated by political consulting companies who have an interest in hyping minor races, as seems to have occurred with the Michigan state Senate race.) The political junkies who read these stories, of course, have all the same incentives to divine broader meaning. But when journalists warn about over-analysis of these races, they’re right—even if they go on to do the overanalyzing themselves.
02:31 PM - November 2, 2009
Press to Cliché: We Just Can’t Quit You
Media acknowledges narrative’s limits; advances it anyway
16 women whose digital startups deserve Vox-level plaudits - A look at the media entrepreneurs who aren’t grabbing headlines
Why was ‘Dasani’ shut out of the Pulitzers? - 5 problems with The New York Times’ ambitious, influential series on the life of one homeless Brooklyn girl
The AP downplays its Obamacare scoop - Repeal on deductible caps marks another step in The Great Cost Shift
The enduring pull of mag covers - Why do magazine cover images still hold so much cultural power in this decline-of-print era?
Michael Wolff’s digital media bloopers - The Newser founder trolls (other) digital-news companies
Email blasts from CJR writers and editors
How did the clothes you’re wearing get to you? We trace the human cost of the Bangladeshi garment industry in video, words and pictures
Fantastic letter in The Times
How do you tell your family and friends?
A look behind the secretive lab’s closed doors
Despite the bridge scandal, Chris Christie’s state is relatively transparent and accountable. CJR’s Greg Marx talks to Gordon Witkin
Who Owns What
A report from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism
Questions and exercises for journalism students.