11/17/2008

Is Sports Ilustrated the new NYT?

If you didn't read FiveThirtyEight.com during the election you missed great electoral analysis. The author readily acknowledged his preference for Obama but his work was objective, dispassionate and accessible. He wrote a short post today with some observations about the press. In particular, I noticed this passage:

"I have written for perhaps a dozen major publications over the span of my career, and the one with the most thorough fact-checking process is by some margin Sports Illustrated. Although this is an indication of the respect with which SI accords its brand, it does not speak so well of the mainstream political media that you are more likely to see an unverified claim repeated on the evening news than you are to see in the pages of your favorite sports periodical."

Assuming th author's assessment is correct (and I suspect it is) here's my purely speculative list of reasons why:
  • SI employees like their jobs more because sports is more fun to cover than politics/hard news.
  • SI has a narrower focus than large scale news operations, thus fewer serious competitors, thus less pressure to churn out stories quickly.
  • SI management has, over time, created a culture that cares about the product.
  • SI makes a lot of money, which attracts the best writers and editors.
This is hardly an exhaustive list and there are plenty of exceptions to each observation (that's why this is a speculative list). Love to hear additional thoughts.

1 comment:

rational said...

I think that there is probably a level of willingness to allow some things to go unchecked because many covering politics have an interest in the ultimate outcome, be it the satisfaction of their candiate winning or, more importantly, access to a potential president and his/her staff.