News coverage of the Shutdown: What seemed most effective?

In a grand attempt to defund Obama care, the result has been a Government shutdown. During this, the president has been very stubborn, as he has said he will not cave into any offers to restart the Government until Republicans unconditionally surrender. The next biggest problem is the debt ceiling, which goes hand in hand with the shutdown. If nothing is negotiated, it will result in a defaulted economy and another economic crisis. Obama won’t give up until the GOP Republican party works something out that includes enough funding for his healthcare bill’s purposes.

            Meanwhile, there are the many news outlets attempting to report this huge story while it unfolds. Some are doing a great job, others not so much. We’ll take a look at who’s doing it right, and who’s just making the story even harder to follow. There are so many media outlets, however the focus of this is on journalists from CNN, FOX, CBS and one shutdown news blog called the Shutdown Live-blog.

            First, lets start with CNN. They followed the story with pretty good effort. They didn’t follow the shutdown as closely as some other outlets like CBS news, who seemed able to stay on top of things better, being that they had more stories on the shutdown to offer. However, I feel that CNN wielded the simplest explanation to this mess, Their 3 minute video, which offered a short but cohesive breakdown of the shutdown really made it easy for anyone to understand. This short breakdown was very important since the shutdown is such a large subject that is important for people of any age to get a clear picture of.

            Now, CNN today has slowed almost to a stop on reporting about the shutdown. Could it be that they ran out of things to talk about? Probably. They seem to be much more focused on Obama care and it’s websites. It feels like they are now missing the mark.

            As a cover story, CNN is offering an article written by Matt Smith titled “No deal in sight as shutdown approaches third week”,  there was a lot of speaking to officials for quotes and information in this story. Such officials include head of the international Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Sen. Susan Collins. All of which are very primary sources. However, there was no dialogue of any citizens affected by the shutdown, which does not give this story an unbiased, objective viewpoint. There was no crowd sourcing or any social media links, although there is a chance at the bottom to share your story. I thought that was a very nice touch. Later, on the same day, CNN wrote a tweet that clarified in fact there was a deal in sight, once one had emerged, which makes them a very current source.

            One more amazing thing about CNN is that they offer their iReport website. This is where real people can report real things. One iReport post that I enjoyed was titled “Gov. Shutdown- Taking a toll on the holidays” with a user submitted picture of a half carved pumpkin, with a note stating that it was temporarily stopped due to the shutdown. I enjoyed this and thought it was a refreshing submission born out of citizen journalism and crowdsourcing.

            Next the focus is on CNN competitor, FOX News. When entering their website, on first sight there is not a thing about the shutdown. On the site is a main article discussing the fiscal crisis and how senators are arguing over it, which no doubt is a good cover story. However upon typing in Government shutdown into the search bar I found the top story, which was by John Lott, to be mocking the shutdown, calling it a “very partial Government slim down”

This title given is disrespectful to the lives effected by this shutdown, and the people who are part of it’s decision making process. I believe the shutdown has been nothing less than a shutdown. FOX gets a thumbs down for the belittling of this potentially disastrous event.

I happened to stumble across another good shutdown story about the contribution of Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz. Starbucks offered free coffee from Oct. 9-11for anyone who bought coffee for someone else. The story is found on FOX’s “the daily Bret” news blog and was titled ”Starbucks takes a stand against the Government shutdown”

I enjoyed that this story used quotes from the CEO regarding his generous contributions. They also featured some heartwarming pictures in participating cafes during the offer.

Next I looked at journalism from CBS. Upon entering their page, there appears a cover story written by Jake Miller titled “All eyes on senate to End Shutdown, raise debt limit”  A pleasant story to be presented with, as it goes hand in hand with the shutdown topic.

Looking directly under, in the latest news section, 3 out of 4 stories are about some aspect of the shutdown, which makes them seem like a very good source for people looking to keep updated with this topic.

            Looking into a story titled “Voices of the shutdown: Trip of a lifetime canceled” This article talks about how a woman who had been planning rigorously to use the Colorado river for a month long kayaking trip with 19 friends, has to potentially cancel because the river is closed off due to the shutdown.

            The journalist, Jessica Hartogs, made good use of people in this story. For one it’s got great sourcing because it delves into showing how people are really personally affected by the shutdown. It included direct quotes from the hopeful kayakers, which gave much meaning to the story.

            looking under the story, there is a comment box for people to describe how the shutdown has affected them. In fine print CBS claims that some stories may be displayed in their coverage. This displays a very good chance for some citizen journalists to take action, as well as some crowdsourcing to play out.

My search for quality coverage in the news blog world brought me to a fantastic blog that followed the shutdown day by day called “The shutdown live-blog” By Josh Voorheez this man follows the shutdown meticulously, which is golden for anyone trying to stay very informed, after all, the Shutdown is a big deal. It appears a simple blog, with seemingly not much traffic, however I feel more people should know about it.

This man literally follows the news closely every day, and quotes & sources multiple news organizations throughout it to get each piece of updated info onto his posts. This is effective to follow the shutdown head on, although it gets very tiring and monotonous reading each and every step, rather than getting a day-by-day summary, which I prefer.

In retrospect, it seems that different news organizations geared their stories towards different crowds. CNN was most cautious appealing to the broadest range of people, and thoughtfully providing their simple breakdown of the complex shutdown topic, along with their citizen based iReport coverage. Fox is as always leading with a republican bias, appealing to that crowd and gearing the stories to fit that agenda. One strong example is when they claimed the shutdown was only a minor “slim down”. CBS seems more focused on the real people and the way they are affected by this event, whether it happens to be furloughed workers or citizens unable to use parks. These guys also gave individuals the biggest chance to have a voice in this matter.

            Last but not least the day-by-day news blog is almost overloaded with information on all the shutdown related happenings. I feel it goes overboard on what’s going on. I sure don’t want to know every detail down to what color tie each representative is wearing, because this man is almost taking it to that level.

            All in all, my favorite coverage of the shutdown has been CNN’s 3 minute long video breakdown of the shutdown. It was the most accurate and to the point demonstration of the shutdown infused with some subtle humor, making it easy for anyone to watch and understand, which is exactly what I think a story this large needs for effective reporting.

Storify on Gov. Shutdown

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