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Bill Clinton on political media's addiction to narrative

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by YankeeFan, Apr 30, 2014.

  1. YankeeFan

    YankeeFan Well-Known Member

    Is Bill right? Is this tendency limited to political press?

  2. Boom_70

    Boom_70 Well-Known Member

    It's the political leader that wants to create and control the narrative.
    My criticism is that the media is willing to go along.
  3. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    It definitely goes both ways. The political leader, when in good graces, creates the narrative. The political press laps it up. Then, if the narrative turns - as in Clinton's case, after Paula Jones, Lewinsky, and other sordid tales - then that narrative becomes the quasi-official one. Which I'm sure is what frustrated Clinton.

    And, yes, it absolutely happens in other sectors of the press, from something as trivial as categorizing teams engaged in a playoff series to something as serious as Trayvon Martin or, to bring it back to politics but away from political personalities, the ridiculously oversimplified manner in which policy positions and motivations are presented.
  4. MisterCreosote

    MisterCreosote Well-Known Member

    We all could use far more critical thinking skills and far less transcription.

    That goes not only for the political press, but for anyone who participates in political debate these days.
  5. Morris816

    Morris816 Member

    That goes for just about anything, really.

    And keeping it to sports... if you really want to know who loves the narrative the most, it's four letters: ESPN.
  6. DanOregon

    DanOregon Well-Known Member

    The problem isn't the media following "the narrative" - it's ignoring or downplaying things that don't "fit." Not correcting errors that fit into the narrative, when the facts really don't.
    And let's be honest, political organizations pay people well to dream up narratives that make their people look good and the other side bad. Talking heads take these and run with them and we get news people saying that "there is a public perception that...."
  7. johngregory

    johngregory New Member

    Having worked in both politics and sports--often on the same day--allow me to compare.

    I'd say this gets *tried* on political reporters more, where press people pitch them a narrative that may not fit. Sometimes it fits, sometimes it doesn't. Easiest solution I can come up with: I won't use a politician's spokesman as a quote. Background, yes, but if you want me to actually run with something, give me access to the politician and I'll ask them myself about whatever you're trying to sell me.

    As someone mentioned, this requires some critical thinking from writers, which doesn't always happen. Political reporters tend to more concerned with interrupting people and making themselves look important than chasing down substantive stories. And they use a LOT of weasel words to bring in their own take on facts: i.e. "A lot of experts are saying..." Really? Which expert, exactly? Or did you mean your editor?

    As for sports, if that does happen, that's on the reporter. No one from the team is trying to pitch me a narrative like a campaign manager would.
  8. Boom_70

    Boom_70 Well-Known Member

    Ironic that the main thrust of Clinton speech at Georgetown was
    an attempt to reshape the narrative of his economic legacy.
  9. hondo

    hondo Well-Known Member

    People read process stories about as much as they read game-day football advances.
  10. Alma

    Alma Well-Known Member

    Nah, don't agree.

    At this point, there are journalists on the left and right -- it's more pernicious on the right -- who have a worldview unrelated to the political leaders themselves and serve to filter all statements, actions and policies through that filter.

    National political leaders in America don't have much real power anymore. The people who have the money for PAC ads have the power. And a lot of those people fund a lot of the political journalism today.
  11. Alma

    Alma Well-Known Member

    When it happens in sports, I think too many stories tend to center too much on coaches. Especially at the professional level, where guys are hired and fired all the time for no greater reason than the owner can't fire himself and the players are too expensive to run off.

    There are only so many things -- especially in baseball -- a coach/manager can do. Basketball has become a game of complete chaos on the floor, and a coach is going to be responsible for that? No. It's on the players and the owner and the GM. The Miami Heat coach couldn't win 18 games at Louisville next year, but he's a better coach than Rick Pitino? No. He has LeBron James.
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