Sasha Issenberg just wrote a rather wrong-headed article in the New York Times (that’s getting a lot of coverage) on why news media fails to cover elections and the political process adequately. Issenberg’s point seems to be that the chess-masters that are the press cannot hope to understand the chess-grandmasters that are the political strategists. Not to put too fine a point on it, but “bullshit.”
1) Many of the best political strategists move in and out of the media (mostly TV) all the time. The media is plenty aware of how campaigns work.
2) Voter identification and persuasion is not that different. The tools may change, but the ideas are still the same. And could there be a more vacuous statement than this:
Microtargeting was at once less directly influential, and more fundamentally disruptive, than these analyses suggested.
So, microtargetting is less important and more important. Brilliant.
3) The failings of the media are pretty much the same as they’ve ever been. The needs and requirements of journalists does not intersect perfectly with campaigns — yes, that makes journalists susceptible to manipulation … but it also makes campaigns vulnerable to getting screwed by journalists.
4) What has changed with the media is the same thing that’s changed in all areas of the news — sports coverage, entertainment, tech, etc. There’s more noise than ever to sift through, and editors are acutely aware of what people are actually reading. The news Beast always needs to be fed, faster than ever (there are no more news weeklies, everything is instant now) and you cannot make news out of something that has not changed.
Also worth remembering:
5) Everything on TV is always stupid.