Clinton Third in Battle for Campaign Coverage

Bill Clinton’s not running for president, but for the week of Jan. 21-27, he was ranked third among newsmakers in that race, according to a study by the Project for Excellence in Journalism. That means Clinton got more media exposure than John McCain, Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, John Edwards and Mike Huckabee.

Clinton’s wife Hillary was second. Her rival for the Democratic nomination, Barack Obama, placed first.

Related: How is Fox News faring in its election coverage this year? Times are tough.

Clinton Finishes Third in Battle for Campaign Coverage (But it’s Bill!!!) | Project for Excellence in Journalism (PEJ)

Arkansas Business on THV This Morning

Better set my alarm.

Starting Feb. 4, Arkansas Business will be doing a segment each weekday on KTHV’s “THV This Morning” show. Our daily business news forecast will air at about 6:40 a.m. As it stands now, I’ll appear on Monday, Wednesdays and Fridays, and Arkansas Business Publisher Jeff Hankins will appear Tuesdays and Thursdays. Of course, we’ll cover for each other if one of us can’t make it.THV This Morning Logo

The segment should be fun. We’ll try to take a forward look at what will happen that day in Arkansas business. And we’ll try to be as coherent as possible at such an early hour.

And of course, I’ll still be on “Today’s THV at Noon” give a market update and a synopsis of Arkansas business news that’s taken place thus far.

Today’s THV This Morning – KTHV Little Rock

Scientology Writes; Gawker Rises – New York Times

Scientology has been good to Gawker.com. Its post of Tom Cruise now infamous Scientology video has been traffic bait like nobody’s business. According to the New York Times:

But according to the Internet tracker Site Meter, unique visitors to the six-year-old site more than doubled, to more than 13.6 million so far this month, from 6.7 million last January, because of popularity of the posts related to Mr. Cruise and to the actor Heath Ledger.

Scientology Writes; Gawker Rises – New York Times

New Video At ArkansasSports360.com

I’ve just posted three new videos to ArkansasSports360.com. I’d embed them here if WordPress supported Brightcove embeds.

Anyway you can see them here. We’ve got video of Ray Tucker talking about expansion at the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame and Jim Harris’ two-part interview with Kentucky Derby winner Calvin Borel, one of the top jockeys appearing at Oaklawn this year.

WSJ: Won’t Be As Free As We Thought

Not long after his purchase of the Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones Newswires, Rupert Murdoch hinted that he’d open up the entire WSJ.com for free access. The majority of the site has been completely locked down to subscribers who pay a $99 subscription fee. But as other online newspaper subscription plans fail (notably the New York Times’ TimesSelect), most suspected Murdoch would open WSJ.com for everyone for free.

But now Murdoch is saying he might not after all. This, from TechCrunch:

Although the full details of the plan are not clear, Murdoch said that much more of the site would be offered for free, however “the really special things will still be a subscription service, and, sorry to tell you, probably more expensive.”

I’m a big fan of free access to online content. Daily business news, weekly print content, blogs and many searchable databases on ArkansasBusiness.com, for example, are open to anyone. Downloadable spreadsheet versions of lists and articles that are more than two months old require payment, however.

As for the WSJ, what we’ll probably see is that commodity content (news that you can pretty get via other news services) will become free, while the WSJ’s more specialized research and opinion will remain under a subscription model. Unlike TimeSelect, which put many of its top columnists under lock and key, the WSJ’s method will probably be more successful. The paper already has a long, successful track record of charging for content (a rarity in the industry), and its niche audience is more likely to pay for the WSJ’s one-of-a-kind business news and research.

John Brummett on ‘Unconventional Wisdom’

David Sanders, an Arkansas News Bureau columnist, “Arkansas Week” panelist and host of AETN‘s “Unconventional Wisdom,” says John Brummett will join him on tonight’s show:

Stephens Media columnist John Brummett will be my guest tonight on Unconventional Wisdom. We’ll talk about the Democratic and Republican presidential contests and why Arkansas Republicans aren’t interested in challenging Sen. Mark Pryor. The program airs tonight at 6:30 p.m., and Sunday at noon on the Arkansas Educational Television Network.

Brummett, of course, is a veteran political columnist who now works for Arkansas News Bureau.

Covering the Horse Race

Seriously, Jack Shafer isn’t the only person I read.

But his piece in Slate today is on a subject I’ve been thinking about lately as we wind our way toward the Democratic and Republican national conventions. Today, Shafer notes hand-wringing among journalists who worry that the media is too focused on the horse race aspect of the race for the presidency, and doesn’t focus enough on the issues and each candidate’s positions.

Shafer asks, Why not cover it like a horse race? This is a contest after all:

Consider the fullness of the metaphor: A bunch of perfectly groomed and tended politicians gather at the starting gate. They all have track records and somebody has placed a bet on them. When the gun sounds, they run like Seabiscuit, frothing and jostling. Some pull up lame before the race concludes. The event, which seems to go on forever, can be a blowout or end in a photo finish. The winner takes a victory bow as the losers regroup for the next heat or depart for the glue factory.

During an actual horse race, nobody wants to hear the announcer drone on about the ponies’ dietary regimes. They want to know who’s winning, who’s gaining, who’s in the thick of it, and who can be written off. Are the front-runners burning themselves out and letting a back marker take the prize? That which cannot be compressed into an announcer’s play-by-play ends up in the learned pages of the Daily Racing Form. But for immediacy, nothing rivals a great horse-race take.

Well, it might make for a great metaphor, but it sure does our news audience a disservice. Shafer notes that if readers and viewers want information on a candidates positions on important issues, that information is merely a click away, with sites like Mother Jones providing in-depth analysis. “If you’re not an informed political consumer this year, you have nobody to blame but yourself,” he says.

But why make our audience have to hunt for all that information? Why abdicate that coverage to news sources beyond what most readers and viewers have regular, easy access to? Part of our duty as news providers is to, you know, provide the news, not expect the public to find it for themselves. And why contribute to the din of horse race coverage when you can stand out by providing honest analysis of what these candidates actually stand for?

Horse race coverage has its place. It’s important to know which candidates have the staying power — in terms of money, charisma, organization and strategy — to go the distance. But what good is that knowledge without providing for readers and viewers a full understanding of what these people are about?

The truth is, to accurately, smartly and thoroughly cover candidates’ stands on issues, news organizations have to devote much more time, energy and resources than they can usually invest. It takes hard digging — through interviews, public records, past legislation — to research exactly what a candidate really stands for, and many news organizations would rather concentrate on the day-to-day slog of the campaign — the cheap shots, the bickering, the theater — than roll up their sleeves and dig.

Even more than that, I think many news organizations are simply too afraid of being seen as biased toward one candidate or party to challenge candidates on where they stand, and call them out when they distort their record, as we know so many of them do. Glen Johnson, the AP reporter who challenged Mitt Romney last week, has the right idea. When they lie, call them on it, don’t back down and tell the American people what you found out. Only then will we come close to providing the kind of public service we so often say we strive for.