On The Plane

Ana Marie Cox participates in one of the weirdest rituals of the dying media paradigm:

Mostly, to the road. It was, as I said, a five state day today. There was a lot of rushing around, much hauling of crap, a ton of waiting in lines. Also some of the world’s most awkward motorcades (anything that involves a bus, basically). And yet I felt like I had seen so remarkable little. I ran the numbers, and, clearly, I felt like I didn’t see much because I didn’t:


Not only is this business of traveling with the candidate not very useful, with its huge ratio of time spent traveling to time spent doing stuff, but it’s also quite expensive for the news organization paying for your travel. And yet, it’s considered essential to do it. After all, that’s “reporting.” And reporting, as we all know, is the essence of “journalism.” Spend hours on planes and buses and so forth and vast sums of money and then you can report on what John McCain said at a rally. Sit at home and watch the rally on television or look up transcripts, and that’s not reporting at all. Sure, you’d save a lot of time and that time could be spent gathering information. And sure, you watching the rally on TV at your desk where you have your internet connection makes it easier to find facts and put things in context. But the important thing is to do the reporting.