Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Beat Sweeteners

Here's an interesting story about how reporters get news - in part by publishing flattering descriptions of government officials:
In the early days of any administration, reporters reach out to the men and women who might become their sources over the next four years — then slather them with glowing profiles suitable for framing in their mothers’ bedrooms.
Reporters have a slang term for such flattery: "beat sweeteners".
Mark Feldstein, an associate professor at George Washington University, suggested that the average reader isn’t served well by a beat sweetener because he probably doesn’t know that it is what it is. 

Such stories prove that there is “this hidden conversation going on among the cognoscenti,” Feldstein said, adding that “whenever I see a laudatory profile, there is always usually some hidden agenda going on.”
Of course the average reader 
isn't meant to understand it.

Flattery tastes much sweeter
when it's served up underhanded.

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