But there’s coverage, and there’s coverage.
Take President Trump’s speech to Congress Tuesday night. Plainly it was newsworthy. It’s a new president talking about his plans for the nation.
More than 47 million people watched it on TV, according to the NY Times.
That compared with a much smaller audience, the more than 32 million who watched the Academy Awards, always a much-hyped event.
So how did the News & Observer cover it? My paper on Wednesday morning had a huge story about a Durham charter school, and a little box — a “refer” box, because it refers to a story inside — about Trump’s speech.
Note how little space the box takes up. Newspapers quite appropriately make important news stories big on the page, and less important ones smaller. So right off the N&O is signaling this story is not important.
Note the wording: “President Trump’s speech focused on security instead of the infighting that has plagued his young administration.”
Given a handful of words, the editors have come up with a sentence that focuses not on the hourlong speech, but on supposed squabbles among the staff.
As if there were an office anywhere that doesn’t have tensions and disagreements among the staff.
Then the story itself is placed inside, on page 4A. Newspapers put lesser stories inside, and newspaper readers recognize it. Many won’t read it at all.
In other words, the newspaper has told its readers: this story is insignificant.
The news media do this all the time. They “cover” stories, but in a way that diminishes the stories’ impact, and reduces readership of them.
There are lots of ways to “play up” a story, and just as many ways to play them down.
The same process goes on in the electronic media as well, in a different form. A clever editor, like a stage magician, can make a story disappear right before your eyes.
Keep that in mind as you glance through the news.