Asking why papers won’t cover a story more fun than working

Well, I could have spent the day working.  But where’s the entertainment factor in that?

So instead, I spent the day sending out emails to various newspaper editors across the country.  The email read:

Will your paper cover the story of how Obama, Murtha, and other Democratic Party candidates have turned off Address Verification on their websites?  It’s been well established now that people can make contributions to these campaigns using phoney names and addresses that don’t match the billing addresses and account names for the credit cards being used.
These verification systems are a normal part of doing business on the net.  Not having them means that they got turned off as a decision.
Enabling anonymous and/or disguised contributions, helping people evade campaign contribution limits, seems like a rather important story.  Do you plan on covering this story?  Or is the fix really in?
Not surprisingly, I received little response, except from one Virginia paper — and yes, I was targeting swing states, thanks — who wrote:

We’ll look for such a story from our various wire services.  Thanks.

Well.  There’s no message there, right.  There’s no way anyone could read that as anything other than “SIT DOWN AND GO BACK TO WORK, YOU MORON!”.
So I wrote back:
So if a news story is lying there on the ground for you, but AP or Reuters don’t carry it, it doesn’t exist?  That’s too bad. I remember reading about Woodward and Bernstein and imagining that journalists pursued stories.
Here’s the brave new world response I got:

The press corps covering the national election is vast, including many independent online watchdogs. Our wire services are broad. If the Obama campaign is encouraging or enabling contributors to skirt campaign finance limits, it will out.

We don’t assign local staff to the national campaign, with the exception of local appearances and other stories of special local relevance.

So let’s reiterate: the AP and Reuters will protect us.  If Obama has a campaign finance secret, the wire services, who of course have no rooting interest whatsoever, will find out.  And it’s not the place of a little regional paper and presumably, much less a reader’s) to do otherwise.

Remind me again why newspapers are supposed to be better than bloggers?

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4 responses to “Asking why papers won’t cover a story more fun than working

  1. which Virginia paper?

  2. I wouldn’t be comfortable revealing that as I didn’t set that up as a public conversation or tell the editor in question I would blog the exchange.

    I will tell you that the paper is in the south east of Virginia, which should be vague enough, while at the same time ruling out the NoVa papers.

  3. I live in Virginia. Quite a few citizens in our town were involved with a dispute with a company, but for the most part the local paper refused to print stories on the issue.

    The paper’s editor had a policy that, in order to be fair and balanced, the paper would only report on anything if the paper could talk to both sides. Guess what? The other side refused to speak to the media.

    Then we went to the government agencies that were in charge of overseeing what was going on, and they told us that it would be “burdensome” for the agencies to have to enforce the laws that were being violated . . . .

    Overall, it was a heartbreaking experience in how the media and government do not work like they should.

  4. Sorry, can’t afford the manpower. All our crack reporting teams are busy dumpster-diving in Alaska and checking Joe the plumber’s voter registration records to investigate such trivia like fraudulent campaign donations.

    /Teh Media

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