Shortchanging the American public: Matt Bai to speak on the ramifications of the ‘ESPN-ing’ of political reporting​

​New York Times Magazine chief political correspondent on the media's portrayal of news as a daily contest

​In a July 6 article, Huffington Post reporter Michael Calderone laments the growing tendency of newscasters and pundits to deliver the monthly jobs report as a contest, with a presidential candidate “winning” and the other “losing.” He goes on to quote Matt Bai, The New York Times Magazine chief political correspondent, who agrees that this trend ignores the much more relevant issue of unemployment and does a disservice to the American public.


Bai calls the phenomenon “a manifestation of … the ‘ESPN-ing’ of American politics, the use of data and prognostication in the constant pursuit of knowing how things are going to turn out before they actually turn out.”

On Thursday, Oct. 18, Bai will visit Washington University in St. Louis to deliver a talk on “ESPN-ing Politics: The Politics of Political Journalism.” The student organization Controversy N’ Coffee is hosting the talk at 7 p.m. in Simon Hall’s May Auditorium on the Danforth Campus. Sponsors include the John C. Danforth Center on Religion & Politics and Student Union.

Bai has been covering American politics at The New York Times Magazine for more than a decade, researching and writing in-depth articles that reveal character and significance (“Is Obama the End of Black Politics?” and a recent profile of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie) or explain the inner workings of Washington politics. He also writes the “Political Times” column for the Times political blog The Caucus.

Bai’s work has appeared twice in The Best American Political Writing, and he is the author of The Argument: Inside the Battle to Remake Democratic Politics.

Bai is a graduate of Tufts University and Columbia University’s School of Journalism.

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