John Sides says that at conventions, a journalist’s job is to measure how well politicians have riled up their supporters. But, polls take time, while coverage of speeches starts minutes after the speakers open their mouths. So how should journalists fill the void? Should they be striving, as they do, to be the nation’s emotional first responders? Novelist Walter Kirn covered the DNC for The New Republic. He said that watching reporters take the emotional temperature of the room was an alienating experience.
Last month, we ran a story about real-life headlines that sound like headlines from The Onion. We asked listeners to send us more examples of Onion-esque headlines, and former Onion editor Joe Garden returns to help Brooke choose the best one.
This is the time when most Americans start paying attention to the campaigns, but political reporters have been on the election beat for more than a year and, according to Politico's Dylan Byers, are just plain sick of it. Brooke Speaks to Dylan about why journalists can't wait for this election cycle to be over with.
Galaxie 500 - Summertime
For many reporters, covering conventions is a chore. Literally, a chore - something that an authority makes you do even though it's unpleasant and seems pointless. But conventions do matter -- to voters at least. Brooke talks with political scientist John Sides who says that the post-convention polls you'll be seeing next week are a pretty good indicator of who's going to win.
This summer has seen a host of natural disasters, from wildfires across the U.S. to Hurricane Isaac. Back in 2009, while wildfires burned in Los Angeles, Brooke spoke with LA Times then-media reporter James Rainey about how the wildfires were unfolding for him in his backyard and on his television screen.
Peter Gabriel - Down To Earth
In January, Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown and his Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren agreed to “the People’s Pledge,” a voluntary enforcement scheme designed to banish Super PAC and special-interest advertising from their campaign. To the amazement of campaign-watchers everywhere, thus far, it has worked. Brooke talks to Boston University Mass Communications professor and Campaign Outsider blogger John Carroll about why and what, if anything, the success of the Pledge means for the rest of the country.
This week, a Romney pollster responded to several critical fact-checks of a campaign ad by saying "we're not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers." Brooke talks to former New Hampshire governor and former White House Chief of Staff John Sununu about the ad and the institution of fact-checking.
In pursuit of balance, there is a journalistic inclination to shy away from fact-checking in favor of reporting both sides of a debate. Brooke reflects on fact-checking assertions made at the Republican National Convention, and talks to The Atlantic's James Fallows who says that Journalists are - slowly and painfully - becoming more courageous in embedding fact-checks in their stories.
Turns out Sheldon Adelson, casino magnate and, as of late, Mitt Romney supporter, also owns Israel’s most popular daily newspaper, Israel HaYom. Freelance Jerusalem-based journalist Matthew Kalman says the free, aggressively pro-Netanyahu paper has quickly come to dominate the market while its competitors downsize and slash staff.
Jessie Ware - Still Love Me
The Republican National Convention was a scripted, curated affair. Yet so many news stories from Florida are genuinely odd. Brooke speaks with Florida crime reporter Will Greenlee and novelist Karen Russell (a Floridian herself) about some of the weirdest stories and why Florida is such fertile ground for strangeness.
Fats Waller - Alligator Crawl
Brooke speaks to Justin Robert Young, who, along with Brian Brushwood, inspired their podcast fans to write a fake erotic e-book and improve its ranking in the iBook store by buying it and leaving 5-star reviews. The idea was to mock the success of Fifty shades of Grey and its sequels. The book reached #4, but then something funny happened - people not in on the joke started buying and positively reviewing the book.
Andrea True - More, More, More
When Nigerian prince scam spam hits our inboxes, most of us know to politely decline requests for assistance. One might wonder why scammers don’t come up with something a bit more believable. But according to a new paper (pdf) by Cormac Hurley of Microsoft Research, the email’s overt scaminess helps identify the biggest suckers. Psychology professor Daniel Simons, who wrote about the phenomenon in the Wall Street Journal, explains.
This week, the media decided that the juiciest line of inquiry about the GOP’s newly minted vice presidential nominee, Paul Ryan, was how deep his allegiance was to the late novelist Ayn Rand. Brooke talks to Slate political reporter Dave Weigel about Ryan’s relationship to Rand.
With the announcement of Paul Ryan as Mitt Romney's vice-presidential running mate this week, the philosophies of author Ayn Rand are once again part of the political discourse. In this piece that originally ran in 2008, Brooke looks at the enduring legacy of the original Objectivist.
Big Star - Oh My Soul
Bob and Brooke announce the triumphant return of Media Scrutiny Theater, the webseries where they watch and comment on the latest batch of campaign ads.
JD Samson & Men - Simultaneously
This week came news that the Homicide Watch D.C. might go on hiatus because its founder and proprietor Laura Amico has been awarded the Nieman-Berkman fellowship. Amico is attempting to keep Homicide Watch alive with a Kickstarter campaign to turn the website into a teaching lab for burgeoning crime reporters. In this interview from November, 2011 Brooke talks to Amico about the site's mission and how it works.
You can find the Homicide Watch Kickstarter campaign by following this link.
Ballake Sissoko & Vincent Segal - Oscarine
In the past month there have been high profile ads supporting both major presidential candidates. Many have skewered for being untrue. The Annenberg School's Kathleen Hall Jamieson says that in the post Citizens United world you can expect to see more ads and more inaccuracy than ever before.
Blood Orange - Can We Go Inside Now
Helen Gurley Brown, longtime editor of Cosmopolitan died this week at the age of 90. While she may be best known for her sex tips in Cosmopolitan, Gurley Brown launched her career with the 1962 smash-hit book, "Sex and the Single Girl." Feminist, writer, and co-founder of Ms. magazine, Letty Cottin Pogrebin did publicity and advertising for the book and knew Gurley Brown for decades. Brooke speaks with Poegrebin about the cultural mark left by Gurley Brown.
Comedian Rob Delaney's tweets about Mitt Romney are so popular that, at times, they get re-tweeted more than Romney's own tweets. Brooke speaks with Delaney about those tweets and the rise of Twitter in the world of political humor.
White Rabbits - Back For More
In his first months in power, North Korea's new 20-something leader Kim Jong Un seems like he is on a mission to differentiate his regime from that of his father's before him, from speaking in public to stepping out with his fashionable young wife. Brooke speaks to reporter Blaine Harden, who says that the images coming out of North Korea show a friendlier, softer dictator, despite the fact that North Korea remains uniquely oppressive.