Nieman Reports

A journal presenting information concerning media issues for the academic audience.

Articles from Vol. 54, No. 2, Summer

500 Words Is Rarely Enough to Tell the Story
When one of them is Ireland For the past five years, I've had the rare privilege and burden of being the only staff American news reporter in Northern Ireland. When the unexpected strikes the peace process here--cease-fire breakdowns, late night...
Against the Commercial Impulse
An author argues for journalism being a vital force in democracy. American democracy is in a state of political depression because the electorate is neither active nor well informed. In addition, according to a recent Pew Center poll, 38 percent...
Are Members of the Press Bored by Issues?
Ron Faucheux, Editor in Chief, Campaigns & Elections: "[Politicians] are not really complaining about the questions the press is asking. What they're complaining about is that nobody's covering their answers. And candidates who try to talk about...
Are Political Reporters a Vanishing Breed?
After 40 years on the beat, one journalist thinks they might be. One night late in the New Hampshire primary campaign I went to Richard's Bistro, the restaurant of choice in Manchester these days, with Bill Daley, the Secretary of Commerce, and...
Are We Asking the Right Questions?
Are members of the press asking candidates the right questions? What should those questions be? A number of panelists, including journalists and politicians, had some ideas about specific topics that should be addressed and ways for reporters to do...
A Serbian Journalist Answers Critics
Should independent media have agreed to government censorship during the war? `Yes,' one editor says. On the facade of Jadran Hotel in Kosovska Mitrovica (in Kosovo) there is a stone sculpture of a woman with seven children gathered at her feet....
Blame Abe Lincoln and Steve Forbes
But don't expect journalists to give second tier candidates equal attention. "The so-called second tier, if you will...." --Wolf Blitzer, CNN, during the New Hampshire primary campaign. Into the chaos of the media filing center after last fall's...
Connecting Political Coverage to Readers' Concerns
In local reporting, entertainment is a distant second to issues that touch people's lives. If you want to make a list of the favorite platitudes of national political reporters, one phrase rises to the top: All politics is local. At one time...
Coverage of Media Mergers
Does it provide a window into the future of journalism? Four months after the stunning news about plans to combine Viacom and CBS, this year began with the announcement of an even more spectacular merger--America Online and Time Warner. Faced with...
Does Journalism Matter?
After the war in Kosova, Albanian reporters reassess their work. "A lot has changed. The way we work, the way we feel about our work, the way others feel toward our work ..." says Garentina Kraja, journalist of KOHA Ditore, the Albanian newspaper...
Do Members of the Press Try to Set the Policy Agenda?
Lee Hamilton, former congressman from Indiana: "I am impressed about how many people in the media in Washington, D.C. really are not much interested in doing what I at least would consider the basics of journalism, which is to ask questions, to explain,...
End Note
Bill Kovach received the Goldsmith Career Award for Excellence in Journalism from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University March 9, 2000. Here are excerpts from his speech. Let me begin with full disclosure. The truth is, if...
From the Political Biosphere into Cyberspace
A Journalist's Journey From Television to the Web 1992 Covering a campaign as a TV reporter is like being sequestered in a biosphere. After a while, you can't remember how to relate to the outside world. In 1992, I kissed my family goodbye and...
Getting to Know You
As many candidates retreat from the press, what we learn is what their strategists want us to know. Political campaigns have found different ways to influence the press over the years. Joseph Kennedy, father of John and Robert, sometimes used cash....
How Do Editors Decide What Political Stories to Cover?
By a margin of 59 percent to 34 percent, participants in Pew Center survey said they think editors care more about the opinions of politicians and other political insiders than their own audiences when deciding which stories to cover in an election....
How Does Television Affect the Coverage of Political Campaigns?
Sheila Tate, President, Powell Tate, and former press secretary: "I've had the field producer for a major network come to me in September of the election year and say, `George Bush will not be on our network tonight because he didn't throw red meat.'...
`How I Hate the Media'
For Jesse Ventura, disdain for media attention is selective. When Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura gave a speech to the Minnesota Society of Professional Journalists last May, he said he wanted to call it "I Hate the Media." But the title wasn't...
International Journalism
In the fall of 1999, Dragoljub Zarkovic, Editor in Chief of the Serbian independent weekly VREME, walked out of a conference convened by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. It had been convened to allow Serbian, Montenegrin and...
Is Getting Personal the Same as Probing Character?
David Broder, columnist, The Washington Post: "The harder part is how we can help voters figure out who the hell these candidates really are and how they might operate. I think we've slowly gotten better at probing those questions. And while it verges...
Journalist's Trade
As the century began, political reporters flocked to the front porch of the Canton, Ohio home of President William McKinley to dispatch his words to readers. Now, 100 years later, the speed of technology and transport, along with changing perceptions...
Keeping a Reporter's Eye on the Contributions
It's easier to find the money, but does the public still want to know? Every presidential campaign has an issue or two popping up and surprising us. In the 2000 presidential primary season, the Cinderella issue was the political influence of money....
Media Censorship during `the Troubles'
A leading Irish journalist ponders the consequences. Imagine, if you can, the following scenario happening in the United States. After more than a decade of censorship of radio and television coverage of a near-race war on the eastern seaboard,...
Multimedia Coverage of the Interactive Kind
At OnPolitics, partnerships and public engagement change the way political news is delivered and digested. To cover New Hampshire's quadrennial presidential primary, a newspaper reporter once could get by with little more than a notebook and a felt...
Nieman Notes
-1947- Frank Carey died on November 5 in Alexandria, Virginia. He joined The Associated Press in 1940 and wrote about science, medicine and space during his 34-year career there. His survivors include three daughters. Jay Geddes Odell died on...
Playing the Celebrity Game
Candidates transform themselves into entertainers. Mrs. Clinton Shows Up, Successfully Joyce Purnick Metro Matters The New York Times January 13, 2000 ... Hillary and Dave, neighbors and friends, candidate and comedian, politician and antipolitician,...
The Fun and Frenzy of Internet Political Coverage
At Salon.com, reporting is wrapped in attitude and the writing is edgier. If you transported yourself back to Dartmouth in 1991 (when I was trying to decide what to do with my life) and you told me that soon I would be running around the country...
`The Higher We Flew, the Less We Knew'
A Century of Reporting on the Race for the White House Doris Kearns Goodwin, Guest Curator of the Newseum's `Every Four Years: Presidential Campaign Coverage, 1896-2000,' spoke during the exhibit's opening on February 9. This show explores relationships...
The Sound You Hear Is Silence
When the subject is corporate immorality, nary a judgmental word is heard. "How often have you seen or heard of a newspaper editorial or column or ... talking head criticizing grave corporate crime or misconduct, and, particularly, the executives...
The Troubles We've Seen
In Northern Ireland, the journalists search for explanations. Television detonated "the Troubles" in Northern Ireland. Inherently unstable because of competing British and Irish nationalisms, the state was political nitroglycerine anyway. When television...
Uncovering Private Interests in Public Places
Scrutiny of legislators should be part of the statehouse beat. While Washington, D.C. slows down during a presidential election year, state lawmakers continue to pass laws dictating everything from the quality of the public's drinking water to the...
Watchdog Conference
Nieman Curator Bill Kovach opened the political Watchdog Journalism conference, held at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. in October 1999, with cautionary words about press coverage of this election cycle. "I was just at a conference last...
Watching New Hampshire from Far Away
In California, not all was as it had appeared. In California, politics is not a contact sport. Interest in presidential politics ranks somewhere below soccer in a roster of civic concerns. Even in Sacramento, cockpit of decision-making for the planet's...
What Are the New Challenges in the Wake of New Technologies?
Bill Kovach, Curator, Nieman Foundation: "We have created a communication system with the new technology during the last two decades in which it looks as though we're creating new classes of information-rich people. We have an older generation that...
What Would the People Ask?
Andrew Kohut, Director of The Pew Research Center for The People & The Press, addressed the question of `What would the people ask?' by sharing results of a September 1999 survey. In that survey a sample group of Americans was asked to describe...
Where Are Muckraking Journalists Today?
An historian says the usual excuses for their absence aren't valid. Americans haven't always hated journalists. Nor have American Presidents. At the turn of the last century, no magazines were more popular than the general interest monthlies--McClure's,...
Words & Reflections
If the conscientious practice of journalism is essential to democracy, as the First Amendment attests, then what, if any, contemporary forces are undermining the critical role journalists have historically played? In this section, this question is...
Yes or No? Keeping a Candidate Scorecard
Steven Brill, Publisher of Brill's Content, told conference participants what he would do to keep candidates accountable and the public interested in coverage of issues. Bill Kovach asked me to think about what, if I had a staff at a newspaper or...