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Monday, 26 January 2004

image for Reporters Scramble for New Story
John Kerry steals pundits' bread and butter

As the Democratic primaries get under way, the original presumptive nominee John Kerry, is quickly being affirmed as the Democratic party's selection to replace President George W. Bush in the Fall. By mid-February, experts expect, Mr. Kerry will have garnered enough state delegates to secure the nomination.

This creates an issue for the nation's reporters, who have been filling their pages, broadcasts and websites with the minutiae of a close race and the day to day drama of a constructed competition.

Irwin Peltan, a Columbia, Missouri printing press operator, has been following the coverage. "Well, last Summer, everybody though it was going to be Kerry. Then, Dean staged a people's revolt, and Clark was pushed forward by the democratic leadership. Finally, Dick Gephardt was supposed be win the almost-local-boy vote in Iowa. Once we got actual voters to actually vote, though, we were right back where we started." Mr. Peltan also expressed some concern over how many papers could be sold now.
"We really had a good run," allows Ann McFeatters of the Toledo Blade. "In my January 12 column, I slammed the democratic nominees for sniping at each other. It was a safe story -- I mean, what else are they going to do?" She signs, "We have to accept that's about over. Maybe Zogby will show an Edwards surge or something."

In a January 19 "Campaign Desk" web log entry on the Columbia Journalism Review website, Thomas Lang notes that much of this bickering has been invented or overplayed by columnists such as Jim Rutenberg of The New York Times. "That's fine for Lang, in his donation-funded ivory tower. I've got to sell papers." Rutenburg's partner Adam Nagourney concurs, "Guys like Lang really steam me up. He's all hoity toity, writing for people who have like six hours a day to follow issues. My readership wants to feel informed in about five minutes. Focusing on the candidates' attacks on one another really fills that need."

Ron Fournier, who was also mentioned in Mr. Lang's web log entry, is more morose. "What the heck are we going to write about? I mean, the Iraq occupation has like a thousand columnists all over it, nobody understands Medicare, and the 9/11 comission is simply not delivering the gravy. The Nation's press corps really needs a new Whitewater. That independent council law was the best thing that ever happened to us."

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