Analysis of media issues, politics and current events.
Process Journalism? Oh, you mean not bothering to get your story straight when you’re reporting a position? That’s what it’s called now?
For CNN and Fox News to inaccurately report the Affordable Patient Care Act (derisively called “Obamacare”) was struck down was a huge strikeout against both news organizations. To beat the “strike” baseball analogy to death, it was a strikeout made with the ball served right in front of them, perfectly still, on a tee-ball stand. It couldn’t have been any easier. Both organizations knew when the SCOTUS (Supreme Courts of the United States) decision was coming. Had all the information they needed to understand the decision with in the decision document, but in the mad rush to take first hard swing at a big story, they missed big time.
Why? To be the first to announce, they jumped on majority decision opinion writer’s, Chief Justice John Roberts, preamble to the decision saying he believed the individual mandate was invalid (he would soon defend the act based on tax powers). Just a few more pages and news organizations spending a few more minutes would have revealed the true decision.
Clearly and nationally embarrassed, both networks as attempted to defend their actions under the guise of process Journalism. The ideas that gathering news is a work in process, written and revised as new data comes in.
Fox News’ defense (to its credit, reversed itself fairly quickly):
“We gave our viewers the news as it happened. When Justice Roberts said, and we read, that the mandate was not valid under the Commerce clause, we reported it. Bill Hemmer even added, be patient as we work through this. Then when we heard and read, that the mandate could be upheld under the government’s power to tax, we reported that as well—all within two minutes. … Fox reported the facts, as they came in.”
CNN, who didn’t correct the mistake for much longer than Fox, gave this statement:
“In his opinion, Chief Justice Roberts initially said that the individual mandate was not a valid exercise of Congressional power under the Commerce Clause. CNN reported that fact, but then wrongly reported that therefore the court struck down the mandate as unconstitutional. However, that was not the whole of the Court’s ruling. CNN regrets that it didn’t wait to report out the full and complete opinion regarding the mandate. We made a correction within a few minutes and apologize for the error.”
In terms of process journalism, CNN nervously admits they used it and Fox News’ typical alpha male style (whattaya you looking at, a-hole?) doubled down and uses it as a defense.
Regardless, a method like process Journalism should have never been used in the first place. Especially for this type of story. Clear. Definable. And the news consumer is looking for the facts, not speculation. Absolute information in the same way one might want to score the last night’s baseball game. I don’t want an estimate of the game score. I want the score. I don’t want your interpretation of whom you think won based on the third inning scores. I want THE score.
Giving me uncertain data doesn’t help me get a greater understanding of the game, it only confuses me (like it did with congressmen, the white house and those who saw the erroneous announcements). So come to me when you are sure you have the right score (or Supreme Court Decision). That’s the “process journalism” I want in that case.
9/11 or being in the middle of a war was a good format for so called process journalism. There a flow and randomness in those events that are simply hard to put real-time context onto. That isn’t the case with items that are managed, controlled and definite like the SCOTUS decision.