Ed Driscoll

Newsweek: A National Shame

I noticed Newsweek’s cover yesterday when I saw it on the supermarket checkout stand. As Howard Kurtz describes it:

The fact that most of those left behind in the New Orleans flood were poor and black is being treated by the press as a stunning revelation — “A National Shame,” as Newsweek’s cover put it.

Actually, Newsweek itself has no shame, and they certainly aren’t lacking in chutzpah, either: he who writes fake-but-fake Koran in toilet stories and puts American flags into garbage cans on magazine covers has no business trying to mau-mau collective guilt out of the rest of America.

Meanwhile, Ed Morrissey has additional thoughts on the media’s decade-long lack of coverage of New Orleans’ crushing poverty:

Kurtz wants to know why these stories don’t get news coverage — stories like poverty and race, and political appointments gone awry. I think he already knows the answer: most news media do not have the energy or resources to devote to stories that complex or long-term. Even newspapers, which supposedly exist to give more depth and analysis to the news, too often only go after the most superficial of stories, because those can get efficient handling. A reporter can quickly go over the details of the extant issue and then drop it for the next big issue of the day. Poverty and race have too much complexity for any serious treatment, and lower-level political appointees bore readers until they screw up. Columnists supposedly should take up the slack, but the columnists have the same problem as the newspaper regarding the subject matter and a much larger obstacle in terms of resources.

How will this resolve itself? The blogosphere will probably provide the solution. People who find these subjects fascinating will devote themselves to researching them and documenting their findings, and journalists might use the blogs themselves as resources. Beltway blogs already give closer scrutiny to midlevel appointees than the media does, and again, reporters with a sense of survival will eventually learn to nurture that kind of research and the blogger who performs it.

In the meantime, however, the holier-than-thou reaction to the supposed novelty of Bush addressing race and poverty looks more like hypocrisy coming from the nation’s newsrooms. If poverty has slipped off the radar screen, they need to start reporting honestly and intelligently on the issue.

Don’t hold your breath.