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Newspapers' Neglect of Political News

July 28, 1996

* Eleanor Randolph's article ("Even When There's No News, the News Business Keeps Going," July 15) makes several interesting and significant points about how the media handle a "slow news day." Her discussion prompts a query: Why are newspapers so neglectful of basic political news?

Every working day congressional committees, state Legislature committees and regulatory agencies make decisions that have long-term consequences for millions of people. But can one find out what they are from reading a newspaper? Columnists like George Skelton may help, but for news columns the answer is no. There has to be a fight of some kind for editors to pay attention.

Compare the astonishing volume of new information on sports and the stock market that newspapers provide every day with the paucity of what we might call elemental political news. Why is this? If the answer is that the public is more interested in sports than in politics (or interested in politics only as sport), it may be that the media have contributed to this disinterest.

Moreover--to return to Randolph's article--can we be sure that the public as a whole is more interested in long feature stories on offbeat personalities, bad science and nostalgia than in the political facts of life?

LEE C. McDONALD

Prof. of Government, Emeritus

Pomona College

* I'm writing regarding the story about your "no news" days.

We out here are aware of those days because we get through the whole paper in 30 minutes.

Do you suppose on those days you could add an extra crossword puzzle?

MARIE PIAZZI

Banning

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