In this age of network news budget cuts and cheap, 24-hour cable circle j…roundtables, it was bound to happen. It seems the last bastion of investigative journalism is now…The National Enquirer!
Unless you live in a cave, you know that, already this election cycle, they have broken the story of John Edwards’ affair. They were so far ahead of the curve on that story that you can carbon-date the first reporters’ notes.
Now, The National Enquirer is reporting that it was they who smoked out the Bristol Palin pregnancy story, forcing the Alaska Governor to go public after an attempted coverup.
The ultra-conservative governor’s announcement about her daughter’s pregnancy came hours after The ENQUIRER informed her representatives and family members of Levi Johnston, the father of Bristol’s child, that we were aware of the pregnancy and were going to break the news.
Does this portend a new era of credibility for the former chroniclers of the likes of Bat Boy and Joan Collins slapfighting? Will tabloids become the Woodwards and Bernsteins of the 21st Century?
What we have here is as trend of two, but there are compelling market forces at work here.
Television networks have scaled back their organizations over the years, increasingly relying on wire services, freelancers, and synergy with foreign news bureaus. Cable channels can spend less, and make more, filling their time with talking heads commenting about the live video from outside someone’s driveway.
Tabloids, like the Enquirer, and on TV, TMZ, have the budgets to get boots on the ground, cheaper, hungrier boots. As my friend, Caleb Howe, can attest, a good percentage of investigative journalism is just being there.
I’m not saying people will suddenly believe everything they read in supermarket tabloids, but after this, it will be awhile before they ignore them.