Courting the media: the story of a love affair

For the last week mainstream political news in the U.S. press has been dominated by the story of David Petraeus’ resignation. As is often the case these days, the saturation of news coverage of the Petraeus story has moved on to the media covering its own coverage.

Orlando has been the site of its fair share of media circuses in the last couple of years. Last year saw the Casey Anthony trial, coverage of which dominated both local and national news media, and reporters and TV personalities descended upon downtown to camp outside the courthouse for the duration of the trial. Amidst all the reportage on the facts of the case and the daily happenings in the courtroom, the media turned to consider itself. Faced with the overwhelming pervasiveness of the media coverage, pundits and commentators began asking whether the level of coverage was appropriate. Should entire newscasts really be dedicated to the Casey Anthony trial at the expense of other issues and events? Surely the trial was not the most important or even newsworthy story at the time. Wasn’t it really an example of spectacle for the sake of spectacle? Didn’t this sort of news coverage pander to the lowest common denominator in humanity? If you missed out on the Casey Anthony media circus and the subsequent solipsistic media introspection, you can look forward to a repeat when the George Zimmerman trial gets underway.

With the ongoing Petraeus debacle the media has again turned introspective. An article on the Daily Intel blog for New York Magazine considers the Petraeus coverage in light of his relationship with the media throughout his career. The author, Joe Coscarelli, notes that Patraeus has long had a very friendly relationship with the media and was well-liked by many reporters. He compares to the stages of coverage of the Patraeus incident to the stages of grief. Either way, articles like this exemplify the tendency of journalists to make the media the center of attention. It is the ongoing story of the media’s love affair with itself.

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