The Chron’s could-maybe-perhaps Doomsday journalism

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The Chronicle‘s “Houston Advocate” reporter (whatever that means) has a dire Doomsday warning of something that could, maybe, perhaps happen if the federal government maybe, perhaps remains (partially) shut down:

Shutdown could delay November food stamps

Food stamp recipients in Texas need to prepare for a reduction in benefits with or without continued gridlock in Washington but nutrition programs for pregnant women, new moms and babies aren’t in immediate jeopardy.

A prolonged federal government shutdown might delay November’s disbursements to millions of Texans, but a planned cut to food stamps – the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP – already was set to begin next month.

So, the headline doesn’t entirely match the story, which is basically too much news space wasted on speculation (not reporting) about what bad thing might happen if the federal government remains partially shut down.

One might think the Chronicle‘s editors would have learned something from the last time they wasted so much news space on similar speculation. Let’s rewind to one of their examples of the Doomsday that was going to result from the sequester:

Sequester could play havoc with air travel

Automatic federal spending cuts could force Houston-area airports large and small to close runways, cut flights or even shutter air traffic control towers.

The Federal Aviation Administration says it is considering putting most of its 47,000 employees, including all air traffic controllers, on furlough beginning in April if the across-the-board cuts known as sequestration take effect on Friday.

The FAA has said it would have to close more than 100 control towers at small- and mid-sized airports, possibly including two in the Houston area, and eliminate overnight shifts at several dozen others.

The agency said furloughs of up to two days per pay period would persist at least until the end of the fiscal year in September.

What if a sequester happened, and the Doomsday speculation from reporters never materialized? Indeed, what if a mild slowdown in federal spending occurred, and hardly anybody but advocates of bigger government even noticed? Would the newspaper run a correction or an update to the original speculation? (Not that we could find.)

The sequester example should have served as a lesson to editors and reporters to cover what IS happening (news) instead of engaging in speculation about bad things that might happen (editorializing), but apparently it did not.

ADDITIONAL READING: The Real Debt Ceiling: What will happen in a decade or so, when default becomes inevitable? – Kevin Williamson, NRO; Obamanomics RIP – Arthur Laffer & Stephen Moore, The American Spectator.

Kevin Whited
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Kevin Whited is co-founder and publisher of blogHOUSTON. Follow him on twitter: @PubliusTX