“Why Not Have Blind Debate Coverage?”

Nyhan urges journalists to come to their own conclusions about tonight's debate:

For the next three presidential debates, send one of your reporters to a room with a TV and no Internet access and have him or her file a story on the debate before seeing anyone else’s take. I bet these accounts would frequently reach different conclusions from media hive mind. (I’m going to try this myself by staying off Twitter for the duration.)

Of course, I’m not optimistic that anyone will actually take me up on this idea. Even as political media becomes fractured along partisan lines, the impulse toward pack journalism remains deeply rooted. There’s a degree of professional safety for journalists whose reporting remains in step with the prevailing take on the news. At a broader level, news outlets little incentive to produce conflicting interpretations of an event; the authority of news coverage is implicitly premised on the idea that there is one objective set of facts to report. In reality, of course, news reporting is a process of selective interpretation—especially when it comes to debate reporting and commentary, which tend to focus on arbitrary and subjective stylistic judgments.