Odd Man thinks of himself as jaded, but maybe he’s just naive and way out of the loop. He was shocked to read Bill Boyarsky’s piece about censorship, inspired by a New York Times story by Jeremy Peters. Boyarsky wrote:
…[Peters] revealed how politicians and their advisers “are routinely demanding that reporters allow them final editing power over any published quotations.” Such approval is now routine in the White House and President Barack Obama’s campaign headquarters in Chicago. Those interviewing Gov. Mitt Romney’s five sons must submit their quotes to the press office for approval. “And,” Peters wrote, “Romney advisors almost always require that reporters ask them for the green light on anything from a conversation that they would like to include in an article.”
He said organizations such as The New York Times, Bloomberg, The Washington Post, Vanity Fair and Reuters have agreed to these restrictions.
Submitting to such censorship is another sign of how the Internet and cable TV news have changed the business of reporting on politics, as well as other areas such as sports and business.
There is a great hunger for trivial news and the reporters must feed it. In political campaigns, the reporters compete intensely for stories with so-called inside information about tactics. What’s Obama going to say in Ohio? Is he going to apologize to Romney? When and where is Romney going to announce his vice presidential choice? Who’s up in the campaign hierarchy and who’s down?
In answering such questions, the campaign staff is more than likely to lie, obfuscate or use language that is bland and uninformative. And if the staff member is to be quoted, apparently, censorship is imposed…
…This atmosphere has given the campaigns great power to reward and punish reporters. Presumably a journalist who refuses to submit to censorship will be deprived of even the crumbs doled out by the campaign crew. Reporters, by The New York Times account, have become prisoners of their sources…
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That would go a long way to explain why most questions are more like a high, lobbed softball as opposed to a hard fastball in most of the interviews over the past several years.
The dumbing down of journalism.