Such is our present state - Macleans.ca

Such is our present state

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Glen Pearson on the press gallery.

We are all aware that the media’s chief undertaking now is “agenda setting.”  It instructs us not so much how to think but what to think about. But once it accepts that less reflective role, it lies susceptible to the manipulations of political parties and their ability to capture attention. While a political strategy might indeed have been brilliant and effective, it might also be wrong and evasive.  Yet most in the media will have already moved on from that reality because deadlines were calling. The truth will probably never be discovered because the media really don’t have the time to undertake that kind of investigation.  Political manipulation wins and the truth is obscured or untested.

This is all probably true. Though deadlines are almost definitely a poor excuse.

If the press gallery fails, it fails of its own free will. It fails because its first, and often only, interest is who’s winning and who’s losing. Most major stories are framed on those grounds. Then “strategists” are invited to argue for their respective sides, polls are commissioned to give the impression of public interest and statistical foundation and then reporters are turned into pundits and asked to guess about what might happen next. 

Who’s winning is almost always the least interesting angle on every story. It’s usually the least relevant. But it’s the easiest. Anyone can do it because it’s all supposition. It’s ephemeral. And except when there’s an election, it exists only in theory. But it’s what people talk about here, so it’s what everyone here assumes everyone else should be interested in. Who these politicians are, what they do each day, what they say and where they’re taking the country is almost always considered secondary.

That, so far as I can tell, has nothing to do with how much time each member of the press gallery has in a day. And everything to do with how they understand what they’re supposed to be doing with that time.