wasting bandwidth since 1999

Supply, Meet Demand

Something to think about as we stumble forward with the completely flawed process of electing a president (or pretty much any other office). Watch and read the content that passes for “news” with this in mind:

This part won’t come as a surprise. The media doesn’t cover the issues. They cover the game. Political races and sports are covered in the exact same way in America. You get predictions about what a competitor needs to do to win, a brief spurt of action, postgame analysis, and a bunch of repetitive talkshows during which former players provide often obvious insights – which consumers continue to rehash around the social media watercooler. Seriously, is Chris Matthews any different from any SportsCenter anchor? If anything, he’s more sports than they are. His show is called Hardball. Even the MLB Network’s shows aren’t called Hardball.

And it’s not just MSNBC, Fox, and the political blogs. It’s every major news source, from PBS’ Shields and Brooks to Charlie Rose’s roundtables to the opinion (and front) pages of the top newspapers.

If you’re thinking the news media is totally to blame for current situation, consider Dave’s premise that at least half the fault belongs to the audience (that’s you and me).

Whenever the media tries to cover the issues at stake in an election, you turn them off. When they cover the game, you leave them on. You watch their shows and read their columns. You tweet. You post. You talk about it at dinner parties. You can’t talk about the issues themselves in that setting because no one in America ever has dinner with someone who doesn’t agree with them on the issues. And how could that not get boring after a few minutes?

The ultimate example of give the audience what they want.

On a side note, if you want an excellent, brief curation of the best stories, delivered free of charge most weekdays to your email or iOS device, subscribe to Dave Pell’s NextDraft.


  1. Marty

    Media is always not to be blamed as they put up the best that they acquire from others. It is always us that criticize issues and make them a big news.

    • tim

      For the most part, “media” in both the original essay and my riff on it refers to organizations that produce new content: NBC News, blogs, and whatever Fox is. As the writer correctly observes, their “best” is almost always about polls and he-said-she-said. But that’s what the audience wants so they have no incentive to do anything else.

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