Asking the right questions-or enough questions?
An interesting read on GOP Gubernatorial candidate Bob Orr's blog
He's talking about whether or not the right questions are being asked and what grabs our attention as reporters. It's an interesting thing the news. One day you can release something that is mundane and every newspaper and television station covers it like it's the most important story in the world. The next day a fire kills two babies and the same release gets 30 seconds at most. It's a sad but true nature of the business. I naturally feel political and state government stories are some of the most important stories. The decisions on Jones Street impact every North Carolinian.
However, our education reporter feels the same about her stories. Managers, who worry about ratings, can be concerned about what's simply going to draw in the most viewers which means more advertising dollars. Let's face it, this is a business and there are bills to pay. I know, I said it. That's not a philosophical belief, but a reality check on my part.
The truth is, the primary season is the most difficult. Consider my position. I am the only political reporter for a statewide television news channel. That means I have several bosses who must approve my one story of the day. I generally get one minute and thirty seconds to air that story. During the primary there are, in the governor's race alone, 4 GOP candidates and 2 Democrats. That means in order to get a fair story I need to get interviews with all the candidates. What's the likelihood of that happening on short notice? On top of that, the nature of a campaign and blogging these days leads to very detailed information. Some might call it nitpicky. We often get detoured from NC issues instead focusing on issues of past fundraising efforts, personal property listings, and where these candidates live.
That's all vital information but for a television station that challenge is too large and too great to report on a daily basis. Ryan over at Under the Dome does a tremendous job with the blog and breaking new information that's sometimes big news and sometimes other news that could be considered trivial. In general, it's all interesting but my point is that's his job. The blog is what he does and he can email or call candidates and have a response fairly quickly.
In television, I need to get in person interviews with all parties involved. That involves time setting it up, traveling and shooting the interview, then driving back and writing and editing.
No excuses, but that's why you often see TV mostly passing up on stories often. Do I wish we took more time to do longer stories that focus entirely on important issues to this state? Absolutely! However, I'm one man who doesn't make the final decisions. There is a lot more that goes into those decisions than a simple yes or no on whether to cover something.
I sympathize with Justice Orr. It's unfortunate in a world filled with such amazing technology that a campaign without deep pockets struggles to be heard. But, in a world where Brittany Spears makes tv news, what else would you expect? Sadly, that's the truth.