Write to the Point
The news cycle and what garners the attention of editors, producers, talking-head anchors and reporters is a crazy and most unpredictable thing.
Sometimes it’s actually driven by events that affect people.
Like the bitter cold that gripped much of the nation recently and let us get to know about a term – the Polar Vortex – most all of us had never heard of before but has been around forever.
Other times it’s pure timing, such as the chemical spill that last week threw a stench into the lives of several hundred thousand people in West Virginia.
Sometimes, if timing is right, news that might also seem important pretty much escapes notice.
There was last Friday’s release of some of the most dismal employment numbers in the last five years where the economy created just 74,000 jobs when 200,000 had been anticipated.
Or also last Friday, a 12-month contract worth roughly $90 million with Accenture was about to be signed. The new company is supposedly going to fix what we’ve already paid several hundred million dollars to CGI International to build a still sputtering website for the Affordable Healthcare Act.
When information is released on Friday there is the general sense by the newsmakers that this is the day where news goes to die. We have many more important things to concentrate on – whether the Seahawks will make it to the Super Bowl, for instance – than dedicating thoughts to a labor participation rate of 62.8 percent, the lowest since the Carter administration in 1978.
So amidst a week where the nation was recovering from record cold in many locations, continued to see an economy languish, a health insurance rollout sputter along and a chemical spill that in other times might be the lead item for top-of-the-hour and the nightly news, a September traffic jam in New Jersey captured the headlines.
Funny how that happens, unless one of the people at the heart of this “traffic-gate” scandal was New Jersey Gov., Chris Christie, the man seen as one of the main challengers in the 2016 race for president against Hillary Clinton.
Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank opines that the key things on the mind of most Americans, based on a recent Gallup Poll are:
• 47 percent citing economic issues as their top concern.
• 31 percent who listed the overall economy and jobs.
• 21 percent named dissatisfaction with government.
Or a Pew Research poll ranked the weather leading American’s news interest at 44 percent, the economy next at 28 and interest in Christie at 18 percent.
Yet going into week two, major media outlets are beginning to devour chapter two of the Christie story. How he curried favor and strong-armed people to have his family featured in a post Superstorm Sandy ad campaign to let people know his state had recovered and wanted people to spend money on the Jersey shore.
Strange how little is known that the campaign’s first two choices –New Jersey music icons Bruce Springsteen and John Bon Jovi – were, for various reasons, unavailable.
The admittedly right-leaning Media Research Center, whose mission has been to calculate bias in news story reporting, figures that in less than a week there was 17 times the amount of coverage as occurred since the IRS scandal broke last May over it allegedly targeting Tea Party groups.
Many will dispute those numbers, but figures lie and liars figure, so one can take it or leave it.
A new news cycle catalyst this week could be the declassification of documents related to the Sept. 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya. No one can forget that the lives of four Americans – including Ambassador Christopher Stevens – were lost that day.
While members of the Obama administration maintained for weeks afterwards that an inflammatory video – not terrorism – was at the root of the attack, these new documents already tell a decidedly different tale.
Of course the person really in charge of the diplomatic front and security that might have saved lives in Benghazi was then Secretary of State and presumed Democratic presidential frontrunner, Clinton.
So will this make news directors and editors go, hmmmm and choose to chase a story?
Predictably, I’ll bet there’s nothing newsworthy, nothing to see here.
Paul Delaney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.