So I was going back through my archives for January 2008, looking at what I was thinking about the state of the macroeconomy at the time, and I cannot help but republish this piece on how awful the New York Times's political coverage is--there is a reason that the only thing people paid attention to in 2012 was Nate Silver, there is a reason for the New York Times to immediately and drastically downsize the rest of its national news staff and let David Leonhardt's operation grow, there is a reason why all of you should henceforth only buy products advertised on Vox: Understand the News:
Hoisted from the Archives for January 4, 2008: Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps?: John M. Broder and Adam Nagourney: "Obama and Huckabee Win in Iowa Vote"...
Notice: we are three paragraphs into the story and not a single piece of news except that Obama and Huckabee "won".
- No numbers about how many people attended the caucuses.
- No numbers about how Iowans are and are not representative of the nation.
- No numbers about how caucus goers are or are not representative of party activists, party members, or the overall population.
I would call this "horse-race journalism," but the first words out of any horse-race journalist's mouth are always something like:
War Admiral by two lengths over Scintillator at five furlongs.
I won't insult horse-race journalists.
Broder and Nagourney continue, giving as little information as possible.... And, of course, without numbers of any kind, we have no idea what words like "tended" might mean. Then, finally, we get [three sentences with] some numbers:
About a third of Republicans interviewed before they cast their votes cited illegal immigration as the most important issue.... followed by the economy and terrorism. The Republican sample included nearly 60 percent who identified themselves as evangelical Christians, who expressed support for Mr. Huckabee by a two-to-one margin over Mr. Romney. Those who make up their minds in the past three days tended to support Mr. Romney.
"Tended," again. I'll cut it off there, because then the canned blather begins.
Shame on John M. Broder, Adam Nagourney, Julie Bosman in Fort Madison, Cate Doty in Waterloo, Patrick Healy in Cedar Rapids, David D. Kirkpatrick in Fort Dodge, Michael Luo in Bettendorf, and Marc Santora in Derry, N.H.
They know damned well they should do a lot better. They just choose not to.