Kevin Drum Overcovered Stories

Kevin Drum - Overcovered StoriesI frequently read stories that should have been spiked because they don’t really say much of anything. The problem is that after spending days or weeks reporting something, no reporter wants to leave empty-handed. So they write something, even if it’s little more than narrative or innuendo. Editors should be more aggressive about killing stuff like this.

There’s an additional point… some stories naturally lend themselves to continual coverage, while others don’t. The Clinton email story is an obvious example of the former. Donald Trump’s tax returns are an example of the latter. These are probably equally important stories, but the email story gets dozens of front-page hits simply because new information drips out steadily. Trump’s tax returns get only one or two because there’s nothing new to report once Trump has made it clear he has no plans to release them.

So editors need to ask themselves if a story is getting overcovered solely because of the nature of the information drip, rather than because of its intrinsic importance… I’d say that both the email story and the Clinton Foundation story have been overcovered for this reason. I don’t quite know what the answer is — the whole point of news is to report stuff that’s new, after all — but at the very least political editors should probably retain more perspective about how much attention to give to individual drips in long-running stories.

—Kevin Drum
New York Times Public Editor Shrugs Off Charges of False Equivalence

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