Why Are Political Journalists More Scared of Revealing Their Votes Than Baseball Writers?
Since I have been trying without success for 16 years now to appeal to my fellow journalists’ avowed principles while beseeching them to follow Reason‘s (and Slate‘s) lead in disclosing which presidential candidate staffers plan to vote for, let me this year try a more mercenary tack: Y’all are leaving some choice traffic on the table.
As of Wednesday morning, our quadrennial survey of staff voting intentions was this week’s most popular item on the website. Having journalists publicly live up to their commitment to transparency is apparently a man-bites-dog story.
What’s strange about this stubborn transparency-for-thee stance, aside from the fact that many publications are missing those sweet clicks, is that reporters not on the politics beat have long since come around to the virtues of self-disclosure. Sixteen years ago, very few members of the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) revealed ahead of time, let alone publicly defended, their annual votes for the sport’s Hall of Fame. By 2014, the percentage of disclosers inched above 50. Last year, it was 84.1.
Along the way, a funny thing happened: Baseball writers started taking their vote more seriously. In fact, the BBWAA in 2017 changed the rules to make all future votes public. “We want transparency from the people we cover,” then-BBWAA President Derrick Goold told ESPN at the time. “And now we have a chance to do that ourselves.”
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