Teaching Examples

Ohio River Ramble: Talking to the voters
November 2, 2006, 2:18 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

To produce the online and print package Ohio River Ramble: Nine Districts in Nine Days, Washington Post journalists Jim VandeHei, Chris Cillizza and Chet Rhodes went to “one of this year’s most contested political regions” and found out that voters are angry.

They visited five states snuggled against the Ohio River: Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia. Cillizza blogged it in The Fix, his regular politics blog for washingtonpost.com. Cillizza and VandeHei wrote a traditional print story each day about the congressional district they visited that day. Rhodes shot a video wrap-up each day, with the two reporters talking on camera about the district.

Okay, here’s my problem with this: Two reporters talking to me.

Don’t take my word for it. Go out on the street and ask some non-journalists who they would rather see in a video, explaining people’s opinions about the upcoming election — some folks who live in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky or West Virginia? Or two reporters from Washington?

For example, in the Ohio District 1 campaign (see video), immigration has been a hot-button issue. Why not ask some local people what they think about immigration? I see people from Texas and California on TV all the time, talking about immigration. I don’t have a clue what the people in Ohio think about it. Ohio is far away from Mexico, a country that comes up a lot in talk about U.S. immigration issues. So what are the issues in Ohio? Let me hear it from the people who live there.

I have some ideas about the answers to these questions I am raising, but explaining why we see so many videos of reporters talking at us will not address this problem. I see this as a big problem in the communication between a news organization and the public.

What I’d like to hear journalists explain is, Why don’t you talk to the people? Why do we continue to see a journalism of official sources and talking-head reporters when clearly that has alienated the public we supposedly serve?

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I know I wish reporters would ask what both sides think of economic development.
They say it’s good for the city and that’s the end of it.

Comment by Megan

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