I am intrigued by Ezra Klein’s ambition to provide a more contextual form of reporting. I agree with him that newspapers are less good at explaining why things are happening than they are at explaining what is happening. And I think Klein has done a good job at the Washington Post in focusing more on how things work than on just the surface-level of breaking news.
On the other hand, I am having some difficulty envisioning how, exactly, that Klein’s vision of journalism is all that different from what we’re already getting. We already have longer, more explanatory pieces of journalism than the typical front-page story. There are features, investigatory series, Sunday magazine length pieces, and wonky opinion pieces.
While it’s true that we are inundated with empty articles about who’s up and who’s down, and what the latest polls say, that doesn’t mean that reporters aren’t trying to explain how health insurance works or why the climate is warming or the reasons that we have gridlock in Washington. Some are better at it than others, and the public’s appetite for wonkish analysis is somewhat limited.
I’m sure that I will be an avid consumer of Klein’s work, but I don’t think my demographic is that big.
In any case, I wish him every success and I hope the scope of his vision is greater than the limits of my imagination.