There was something a skosh awkward with the print edition of the Wall Street Journal today (Friday, August 31st). And I’m speaking as a reader of news, not as a forward observer in the partisan wars.
You just know the WSJ wanted to be in on Romney’s big night. It was finally time for the big acceptance speech. No doubt the WSJ wanted it so bad they could taste it.
There was just one wee problem. The event would occur after their print deadline. I’ve seen newspapers in local markets push back deadlines for things like important sporting events in the evening and such. Editorial closes late, which pushed back pre-production, press deadlines and cascades all the way to distribution. The trucks run late. In my experience it takes an edict from the CEO to push back reliability benchmarks on home delivery. It’s a rather big deal.
Apparently the wait time was too long or WSJ doesn’t have such an option. Under the headline “Romney Vows to ‘Restore’ U.S.’ came news “coverage” (air quotes) consisting of several predictions. I guess we could call it a case of “pre-reporting” (air quotes) the news. In that vein the WSJ became the equivalent of a bulletin board system or newsletter.
Note: I’m using air quotes to differentiate from actual quotes used in the story.
The news, according to the story, said that Romney “prepared” to accept the Republican nomination for president. He was “prepared” to take aim at the president.
Then WSJ quoted and attributed words to Romney that Romney “planned to say” during his speech, “according to excerpts released early.”
Two paragraphs in a row contained text surrounded by quotation marks disclaimed with the word “planned.” It felt weird. It felt awkward. Three out of the first five paragraphs contained that word.”
Meanwhile, I’d already read all about the night, for free, on the internet. Tweets, Facebook, WordPress, the AP free app on my iPad, and on and on and on to the break of dawn. The same dawn where I assume WSJ newsprint was about to embark on it’s long journey to the customer. Well, in the name of accuracy, not so much Facebook but you know what I mean.
In a case like this, I think WSJ would have been better off concentrating on post-analysis and coverage rather than trying to pretend like it was there. It was simply a case of the wrong place, wrong time. Their print coverage of the actual event wouldn’t hit the streets until over 24 hours after the event was already in the books.
Ain’t I a stinker. I do so love making fun of things owned by Rupert Murdoch.