Last week, Providence Journal Executive Editor Alan Rosenberg penned a column on “how [the paper] decided on big front-page treatments of stories related to the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, four days in a row, starting last Sunday.” Unfortunately, he never quite gets to the interesting part, which is why a particular story is bigger news than another.
Why, for example, was it “of course” the right move to put promoting an “anti-white-supremacy vigil at the Rhode Island State House” on the front page Monday? I’m not suggesting it wasn’t, but what made it so? Is that what Providence Journal readers want to know about, especially? Was the hope to tap into interest in a national story with a local angle?
By Wednesday, such questions have a little sharper edge. Why was President Trump’s “both sides” comment so newsworthy as to bring the front-page coverage count to four days? These aren’t idle questions, because as we saw, coverage like that provided by the Projo contributed to a massive mob descending on Boston to intimidate a small group of local free-speech advocates. Where do the objective news decisions end and the contribution to a partisan left-wing narrative begin?
Ed Driscoll recently raised a telling reminder on Instapundit:
Note that this syndicated column by Ruben Navarrette, Jr. is running in the San Francisco Chronicle,which buried its editors’ videotaped interview with Obama in January of 2008 in which he vowed to bankrupt the coal industry, instead of putting his words in giant 72 point type on its front page the next day. A serious presidential candidate vowing to wipe a major industry should be major news no matter what your political leanings or your views on environmentalism. Its omission by the Chronicle served as a stark reminder that long ago, old media morphed into Democratic operatives with bylines, who merely produce content as a side function of their main goal of keeping their team in power and accumulating more of it.
It sure feels that way, and if Driscoll’s impression is incorrect, the Rosenbergs of the news industry are going to have to be a little more detailed in their explanations of why.