Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Fixing political Reporting

So I saw this today and I thought it was kind of funny.

(for the non-sports fans out there, the Rams used to represent St. Louis before moving back to Los Angeles. Apparently some St Louisisans are a bit bitter about this)

Anyway, it got me to thinking.


I think we could solve a lot of the problems with political reporting if we did one thing. Fire all the political reporters and let sports reporters take over. Because sports reporters understand how objectivity works.

For instance:

Last night there was a football game.


The final score was New England 30, Baltimore 23. Now if you turn to any newspaper sports section, or to ESPN or your local news channel, every one of them will tell you that New England defeated Baltimore. because that is objectively what happened. None of them will say "well, both teams were able to put points on the board last night," or "Quarterbacks for both teams threw interceptions, here to debate which turnovers were more costly to his team is our panel of experts. . ."


Even if you live in Baltimore, your local reporters aren't going to tell you that the Ravens won. They may begin the story with "ugh, what a lousy night for the Ravens. . ." but they won't be able to spin the results into a Baltimore victory. Nor will they try.  And they certainly won't say "New England is claiming victory in last night's game, but Baltimore is saying 'not so fast.' Here are a couple of players from each team making their case that their side was the winner, and I guess we'll just never really know for sure! Agree to disagree!" Because objective reporting means you report what the actual facts are, not that you are required to make the story equally favorable or unfavorable to both sides.

If sports reporters covered a debate in which one candidate came prepared with facts and figures, demonstrating knowledge of a wide variety of subjects while the other shouted "WRONG!" a lot, they would just tell you that the first candidate had in fact won the debate. They wouldn't feel the need to speculate about how much of a problem it might be to show up "over-prepared" or whatever.

Sports reporters are allowed to differentiate between the truth and a lie. They don't have to pussyfoot around. They can just come out and say that, for instance, certain baseball players were lying when they claimed never to have used steroids.


Also, they're better at analysis than political reporters. Take for example this breakdown of the 49ers passing offense. There's more scrutiny of factors of causation in these two sentences than in the entirety of most political reporting.

Vanishing after halftime is too common a trend under Colin Kaepernick, who produced only 4 passing yards in the second half before going 2 of 3 for 13 yards in overtime. Although the 49ers should reconsider Kaepernick’s starting role, he is not the only culprit here, including Chip Kelly’s conservative calls, unreliable receivers and costly injuries to Joe Staley, Daniel Kilgore, Vance McDonald and Torrey Smith.

Oh, God. It's true! All of it! Oh they're so terrible! 


They used to be so good. So good!