Monday, February 19, 2007

When Journalists Are Asked About Nevada Stupidity Abounds

One of the first of surely numerous, inevitable "why bother about Nevada" stories has today been thrown to the hungry masses outside of the state ahead of the first nation-wide forum of Democratic presidential contenders to be held in Carson City this week.

"Nevada Dems working to lure candidates" is the headline of the AP's Kathleen Hennessey's story. And what do you think of reading that headline? Slot machines and hookers? Well, the media is sure doing its best to cultivate this image.

Ms. Hennessey hardly makes an effort to veil her disappointment about the Nevada Democratic Party's welcome package for candidates:

The 44-page document includes notes on the practical and historical: a list of union hotels in Las Vegas (42) and the drive time from the airport to downtown Reno (eight minutes), for example.

There's no mention of Bugsy Siegel or legalized prostitution in rural counties. The state's storied gambling history is dismissed in a single sentence.

And further down:

Reid argues that winning the state's caucus will be key to winning a handful of swing states in the region. He's repeatedly hailed the move as a victory for working families.

That is relatively new territory for a state whose working girls get far more media attention.

Nevada, particularly the southern part of the state, has made a killing by billing itself as risque, not representative. The state tolerates legalized prostitution in 10 counties, and embraces gambling in nearly every corner of all 17. Slot machines can be found in supermarkets and gas stations.

After reading this story would you know what Ms. Hennessey routinely writes about? Well, she is an AP staff writer who spends most (if not all) of her time focusing on Nevada issues. So, she could have chosen to write about issues of special importance to Nevada. Urban sprawl, water problems, heck, she could at least have mentioned Yucca Mountain (even Russert recently managed to ask John Edwards about that one). After all, this report will probably be published in numerous papers across the nation this week.

But, no, she manages to conclude this piece of work with a quote by a colleague of hers that clearly shows what's wrong with mainstream journalism:

"The television crews will say, 'How do we say in visual shorthand, I'm in Nevada?'" said Dayton Duncan, a New Hampshire writer who's written about that state's primary and the West.

"They show cornfields in Iowa because that's what people expect to see. ... My bet is when they want to say we're in Nevada ... you're going to see a lot of neon signs."

To think that these people actually get paid...

PS: Leslie W. Blitzer and his Late Edition crew actually managed to find another backdrop: a golf course in Henderson. Unwittingly, they actually got close to one of the top issues in Nevada: water.

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