Sunday, January 16, 2005

Enquirer's Coronation Coverage

News coverage is fickle and the Enquirer is no different than most other news outlets. What caught my eye today though was their coverage of the upcoming Inauguration of the President. As a means of comparison, let’s first look at the past:

1997 Clinton II coverage:
On the 20th we had one article and a photo. That is it. Well to be fair, that was all that is online. There was likely much more from the wire services in the actual print edition. This time period was early still for the Enquirer's web edition, so what we see here is limited. The day after there was more coverage with another photo, two Local Wilkinson articles here and here, a Gannett story, and a Borgman Cartoon.

2001 GW Bush I coverage:
On the 20th we only got a front page link to the AP Wire reports, and a Kentucky Edition local story.

On the next day we got a bit more with a photo on the front page, a happy family of Bush supporters, anti-abortion people frothing at the mouth, and another Wilkinson article, the only constant from 1997, outside of a Borgman cartoon.

2004 GW Bush II coverage:
This year things are just a bit different. It is Sunday, January 16th as I write this. Today the Enquirer has unleashed a blizzard of coverage of the Bush Inauguration as if it is a Coronation. First we get an overview Party Story. Next we get a full Inauguration Section unique to the Enquirer. In that we get a story on what to wear to the event, which local fat cats are going, where brain washed kids are doing, plus eight (8), yes eight, additional local stories, mostly profiles on people going to the event. Those stories plus AP links galore. The only mention of anything negative, at least that I was able to find, was in the main "party" story linked again here, which had a sidebar listing some websites about protests. We are told from the special section of what is planned for the rest of the week's coverage:
Thursday: Your guide to the inauguration with schedule, maps and more.

Friday: Complete coverage of Thursday's events.
The only thing missing are an actual crown and the Beefeaters, and then we would have a coronation.

What has caused this change in coverage? Not even the 2001 Bush event got this much attention. Here are my ideas/theories:
  1. Real Life, Real News, Real Crap?: Retail Journalism has taken on a political meaning as well one for human interest stories. Give the people what they want to hear and what the local lemmings want is a way to show how much more they support dear leader than their neighbors do, or they just want to hear a confirmation of their faith in dear leader. That certainly got plenty of that today.
  2. Expansion of web coverage: Yes it is possible that the print version of the prior year's issues covered much more information, and the AP wire sections may have even had plenty of profiles of people going to Clinton's 2nd Inauguration in 1997, but I doubt we saw many or any local profiles.
  3. Dear Leader Worship: I still feel there is a type of deification of Bush by many and the newspaper either wants to appease that element of the community or they too suffer from the desire to have a glorious leader to worship in what they told are dark and evil times with evil doers out there doing evil in places with lots of oil or sand or Muslims.
  4. Partisan Coverage: The simple answer is that the Enquirer was a Bush supporter and are giving their boy good coverage. This is not supported by the level of 2001 coverage since they pushed Bush back then too. One different factor was the general level of tension after the 2000 elections which made the whole 2001 Inauguration low key. This year they boy won with little, and in their minds, no controversy, therefore they can party it up with a bit of guilt.
What is it most likely? I think it is marketing. Bush people locally are fanatics and they demand to hear what they want to hear, and the Enquirer is giving it to them.

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