• Log In
  • Sign Up
    • The way in which the news media has reported on the Iowa Caucus is an example of why I think journalism is broken in the USA.

      Nothing in my opinion on this subject is affected by which candidates had a better night in Iowa than other candidates making it a better example of what I think is wrong than many other examples in the past. In the past, if I were to get in a discussion on this matter with another person that person might think that I was motivated by who I wanted to win or my policy preferences. But, neither of those play any role in my view of what I think is wrong with journalism.

      If I understand correctly (and I may not) there were at least three things which adversely affected the tallying of the results of the Iowa caucus.

      1. Some of the precinct captains decided long before January 3 that they were not going to use the app.

      2. Some failed to download the app until the last minute or misuderstood their instructions

      3. A software error in the reporting server caused discrepancies in the results which were reported to party headquarters.

      As a result of these three issues the backup phone reporting method was overloaded and jammed by too many people trying to report.

      Now look at that list. None of those things means that the Iowa caucus method of selecting a candidate failed.

      But you wouldn't know that from the news reports unless you paid careful attention to the difference between what actually was happening and how the news people FELT about what was happening.

      If you go back to the time before radio and television when the news cycle between a national event and the transpiring of information about that event was much longer, caucuses were not expected to yield "instantaneous" results. Learning the result of caucuses was like waiting for a kettle of water to boil. If you were patient, you would eventually get the results that you were seeking but throwing a temper tantrum about how long it took the water to boil didn't make the water boil any faster.

      This is one of the main problems with modern journalism. The news media has expectations of instantaneous information and they are emotionally invested in the outcome of any event.

      Long before an election cycle, the News Media begins polling. When candidates start announcing the News Media runs polls. The problem is that polls are garbage. Many times in American elections, the results of the election have been extremely different from what the news media were expecting. In 1964, a computer was used on election night to process the incoming results and the network decided to not report what the computer was predicting because they were convinced that the computer must be wrong. It wasn't.

      This problem of news media expectations and the emotional investment of those people who are part of the news media resulted Tuesday in the News Media deciding that the Iowa Caucus was a fiasco, or an embarrassment, or a failure. It was none of these things. It was simply that their kettle of water didn't boil as fast as they wanted it to and therefore they threw a tantrum.

      The left wing of the News Media industry often talks of the right wing of the News Media as if it were "the problem" and the left wing was uncontaminated. Unsurprisingly, the right wing News Media does the same sort of thing back to the left.

      But, in my opinion, they are the Montagues and the Capulets and they are equally the cause of the dissemination of unreliable reports which are contaminated by what the news people WANT instead of being a report of what happened.

    • I think there was also confusion about the rules. For example, it looks as if some people who had chosen a candidate in the first round who had gotten a bit over 15% but were not near the lead, switched to a different candidate. This was not allowed under the caucus rules. There was apparently similar discrepancies in observing what the central party had decided.

    • I watched the new National Inquirer documentary on the plane to Morocco, and it is seriously eye-opening about human behavior and the press we buy as a result.