Search This Blog

Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A Scandal-Free White House?

At Politics Daily a few days ago, Walter Shapiro pondered possible reasons for the relative absence of scandal in the Obama White House so far:
The reasons for a scandal-free White House may be as random as Obama's luck (just ask presidential candidate Hillary Clinton) or may reflect the partisan self-discipline of congressional Democrats (something that has not easily been applied to health-care reform). Obama also may be benefiting from the newspaper cutbacks that have created a dwindling band of Washington investigative reporters.
A new report by the Project for Excellence in Journalism provides some circumstantial evidence pointing to newspaper cutbacks:
  • 2006-2008: Now the deterioration of ad revenue and deep newsroom cuts begin in earnest. Another 7,500 news jobs vanish. Those foreign bureaus are closed. Many specialty beats are shut down. Metros can no longer afford to cover outlying suburbs. The most experienced (and highest salaried) reporters and editors are targeted with buyout/early retirement packages.
  • 2009-early 2010: Horrible recession and accelerating ad losses force continuing deep cuts. Separate business and features sections disappear. The space for news, especially on light advertising days, has been squeezed to a fraction of what it once was. Statehouse and Washington bureaus are gutted or closed. All but the most positive newsroom survivors are mourning the departure of colleagues, worried they may be next to be axed and pessimistic about the industry’s future. The latest job-cutting target is to slash the copy desk. Readers see less news and many more typos and factual errors.
  • A similar trend is evident for magazines:
    Both Time and Newsweek closed down every domestic bureau not on the Eastern Seaboard, and reduced the number of staffers assigned to Washington. Newsweek shut its Baghdad bureau and U.S. News & World Report lopped off 38% of its newsroom and listed operations only in New York and Washington.