When he was press secretary for President Bill Clinton, Mike McCurry had one of the toughest PR jobs in the world. He had to deal with the whole impeachment thing over a sex scandal as well as numerous other juicy charges.
In today's USA Today, McCurry weighs in on the hand-wringing over the Bush Administration's use of video news releases. He essentially tells the media to relax, take a deep breath and look at themselves.
The news media is not doing its job in covering government in a way that keeps citizens informed, he says. So, departments try to pick up the slack to explain their programs and initiatives. I saw this time and time again while working in and around the Michigan Legislature and Michigan's state government.
The Michigan Capitol Press Corps has grown lazy. And, their bosses who assign the stories put state government stories on the bottom run for coverage.
Look at today's Lansing State Journal, the Detroit Free Press or Detroit News. If the Lansing State Journal gave half the coverage it gives to college basketball to state government, people would have a better shot at making good decisions about their leaders and about policy.
Reporters' efforts these days seem to be regurgitated news releases and follow-the-pack coverage of the few news conferences still held around the State Capitol in Lansing. If our rights as individuals are being lessened, the news media shares a good chunk of the blame.
They are not living up to their historical responsibilities. Examples abound. Journalism schools need to get with it and lead the charge.
Hard news and in-depth coverage of legitimate stories is becoming a thing of the past, almost.