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The Flag of the World

-G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

This here blog is a glimpse or two or three at the condition of the 'fortress of our family' through the eyes Timothy Goddard, a Christian writer with an unhealthy interest in politics living in the Puget Sound area.

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Tuesday, November 04, 2003

 

Mayors or governors?
I noticed something interesting while checking for updates on today's elections. Compare this CNN overview with this one from FoxNews. There's not a lot different, contentwise. But look at the order in which the information is presented--heck, a lot of the sentences are nearly the same, probably because the FoxNews article utilized CNN's Associated Press article. But CNN leads with, and spends the bulk of the copy on the Philadelphia mayoral race, while Fox News spends its first section on the gubernatorial races and their implications for 2004. Why, exactly, is this?

Journalists put what they feel to be the most important part of a story first, and then the next most important, and then the next, and so on--that's standard, universal journalistic practice and is called the 'inverted pyramid.' So, the writer of the CNN article thinks that the Philadelphia mayoral race is the most important thing happening today, while the FoxNews writer thinks that the gubernatorial races and their implications for 2004 are the most important. But why, exactly is this?

I can think of a few possible reasons for each. On one hand, the most logical motive would be if the Fox writer determined that governors are generally more important than mayors, so theirs are the more important elections, so they come first. This seems like the most logical and defensible position. On the other hand, the Philly race has been a good deal more exciting, what with FBI bugs, firebombs and union thugs, so CNN has a fairly decent case that the most interesting bits should lead--though isn't Fox the one always accused of going for style over substance?

There's also the possibility that the CNN truly sees mayoral races as more important than gubenatorial races--this would be in keeping with their city-dwelling liberal mindset. But the fact that the Houston and San Fransisco mayoral races are at the end of even the CNN article seems to indicate that this is not the case.

Then there is the cut and dry political reason--a Bush-baiting Democrat is going to win the election in Philly, while two Bush-sponsored Republicans appear poised to take the governors' mansions in Kentucky and Mississippi. Bush-hating CNN wants to focus on the former, while Bush-loving Fox wants to focus on the latter.

If this was true, though, I think it was probably unconscious, and the writers would defend their placements with the first two defenses I mentioned. Of those two, Fox's is by far the more professional, though I wonder how it would have played out the same if the situation were reversed. Are these consistent policies (most interesting vs. most important), or just flukes?

Things become more complicated when you introduce this MSNBC article to the mix, also by the AP. It leads with both stories, then hits the Philly race a little more, then settles into the same pattern as Fox--governors, Philidelphia, others. It's an odd combination of both styles, but overall an idictment that CNN is going down the wrong path with its mayor-heavy reporting.

This is very convenient for the Democrats, should they keep this style up oce the elections are over, especially if Republicans take Kentucky and Mississippi, as they will be able to emphasize the higher-profile (for CNN, at least) Philidelphia mayoral race, and gloss over the fact that those two wins would be a few more O's in the "dooooom" that's being spelt out for the Democrats in 2004. I'm not saying this is intentional--just very convenient.
Agree, disagree, have more information on the topic? Please, feel free to leave a comment. No profanity!
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