Saturday, October 30, 2010

An interesting and perhaps accidental glimpse into the news editing process...

A blogger named Unca Darrell has an interesting look at the editing process... basically one newspaper ran a version of an article, and another article ran another version... and it became clear that the editors didn't like a lot of the things that were critical of Bill White (link). Excerpt follows...
HERE'S WHAT we know for sure: 

Both the Chronicle and the Dallas Morning News ran news analyses this weekend about Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bill White's years as Houston mayor.  
The Morning News was considerably tougher on White ("Texas gubernatorial candidate Bill White gets a mixed report card for years as Houston mayor") than was the Chronicle ("Success, unfinished business mark White's legacy"). 
Both stories had the same byline -- Chronicle reporter Bradley Olson.
Now the suppositions:
That after the Chronicle's desk editors finished with the story, they shipped it to the Morning News.
That The Dallas paper published the story in substantially the same form as it was submitted from Houston. 
But that after the story was exported to Dallas, Chronicle editor Jeff Cohen came to the office late Sunday morning night and engineered a heavy rewrite, including insertion of a quotation from a campaign press release announcing Mr. White's run for governor.   
However it happened, the result was dramatic. Many of the Chronicle's second-round edits were technical. But other, substantive changes produced a frontpager that accentuated the positive (successes) and downplayed the negative (unfinished business, not failures). The result: a far more sympathetic portrait of Mr. White than Dallas subscribers were seeing. 

Interesting... I think there's a lot to this... makes you wonder how the editors spiffed up other articles throughout this campaign... and perhaps out right killed some articles critical of Bill White. I am told that this particular editor is very very close to Bill White on a personal level... perhaps he should have recused himself from the editing process on Bill White stories...

More analysis from the Unca (link). Excerpt follows...

The purpose of the rewrite was to make the Democratic gubernatorial candidate look better. 
Now let's consider what it means when a big-city newspaper takes sides, politicallly, on its front page. 
The article was not news, strictly speaking. It was a news analysis. A "thumbsucker," we called it back in my day.
Chronicle editors had an obligation to edit the article. That's what editors do, and everybody needs editing, even Mr. Olson. If you review the edits, you will see that several improved the story by tightening it up. That's a good thing.
But Mr. Olson's analysis was not merely edited, in a technical sense; it was deliberately rewritten to make Mr. White look better.
In the second paragraph, for instance, editors chopped the useful idea -- inarguably true -- that Mr. White had both significant accomplishments and failures. Instead, we are told, he had "significant moments." 

This may be one of the most biased press corps in my many many years around this game...

1 comment:

  1. In most cases the Dems retain control by obfuscation of the facts.   The MSM is the Dems #1 partner in making this happen.   For political junkies, aided by the Internet, this partnership between the press and the Dems is a given.   Unfortunately, many voters have neither the time nor the inclination to get informed thus we end up with 'thumbsucker' pablum from the press, either by origin or edit, such as that which you have noted above.


Hey now, campaign characters. Be nice. I know a lot of you on both sides, so I don't want any overly foul language, personal attacks on anyone other than the candidates themselves, or other party fouls. I will moderate the heck out of you if you start breaking the bounds of civility.