The politics of covering politics
CEO NOTES | How do we stay informed without becoming obsessed?
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How much political news coverage is too much?
I try to think about that question from two angles: first, as a consumer of political coverage, then as a producer.
OK, then—how much political coverage do everyday Christians need to consume?
I’m not asking how much political coverage we want. Sometimes political reporting, analysis, and punditry can be like sugary snacks—what we want and what becomes harmful are two different things. And like those tempting treats, sometimes the more political news we consume, the more it takes to satisfy our sweet tooth. We need to be prepared to impose our own cutoff point.
But that sweet analogy does break down, because it’d be wrong to avoid politics altogether. What happens during elections—and more crucially, what happens as a result of elections—is very important. It is worth knowing about and worth considering. We need to be informed.
The balance, then, is staying informed without becoming obsessed. Finding that balance is a product of prayer, spiritual discipline, and allowing the Holy Spirit to rule the human conscience.
Which brings me to the second way of thinking about the question: as a producer of political news.
The volume of political coverage available seems almost infinite. In a marketplace that seeks to meet consumer demand with a proportionate supply, we must assume that the demand is very high for political reporting and opinion. There are quite a few news organizations—some really good ones, some not so much—whose entire purpose is to cover politics.
Do we really need more?
That’s a question our editorial leadership has been asking since the beginning of WORLD. Our hope is that the coverage we provide is sufficient, on its own, to adequately inform our audience. Our hope is that we demonstrate, by our commitment to serious reporting and analysis of political issues, that politics is important—but not ultimate.
Last year, we opened our first Washington, D.C., bureau after many years of having reporters assigned to the city. Perhaps oddly, our purpose in opening that headquarters was not necessarily to do more reporting of straight politics. It was also to cover the many nonpolitical, or para-political, events and people that converge in D.C.
As we enter a political season, it’s worth making the question of our political news consumption and production a matter of prayer and sober thinking.
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