Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Staged political event not news

Apparently the Iowa City Press-Citizen found it news-worthy that Mitt Romney made public statements critical of Democratic leadership.

"Romney: Leaders put nation on road to decline; Former governor criticizes health care reform."

The Associated Press story highlights the former Massachusetts governor's statements at a book signing in Des Moines on Monday. That Romney, a potential Republican nominee for the 2012 presidential election, was critical of his opposition was predictable, expected. It was hardly news.

But it was a non-event that ended up garnering front-page treatment. Why is this? Likely because known personalities can drive readers' interest in news stories. We see this in the popularity of tabloid publications. Those principles are not unknown in the traditional news room.

Political controversy is a second motivation for running Romney's comments on page one. We see the prevailing programming on the popular cable news networks is confrontational political talk. Viewers eat it up, and are likely to do so when they see it in print.

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