Ink Fight: Globe and Herald Spar Over Election Coverage

newspapers(Photo by NS Newsflash on Flickr.)

In a two-newspaper town such as Boston, the dailies must differentiate themselves to gain readers, influence, and power. And since newspaper journalism is so embattled right now, we’re being treated to an especially nasty duel as each paper makes its own case while smearing the other — except at some point, they stopped singing their own praises and went all-in on dirt.

It almost seems like the Herald and the Globe separately decided that people would look at newspapers more if Jerry Springer invited them into the studio together and let them duke it out.

The Herald’s rather savvy tactic thus far has been to frame the Globe as a liberal newspaper with more of an interest in seeing a certain electoral outcome than telling truth to power. And that hurts the feelings of the high-minded idealists on Morrissey Boulevard, who fancy themselves honest and without bias. Of course, the Herald can probably only recognize the Globe’s tactic since they are doing the exact same thing, except for conservatives.

Unsurprisingly, the whole thing centers around Elizabeth Warren’s difficultly to prove her Native American ancestry. The Globe first tried to brush the story aside, calling it a “distraction.” The Herald has acted as if there hasn’t been a bigger story in the history of the world.

In truth, they’re both wrong, but they’re drawing out a lot of poison in the meantime. Politico has a story this morning about how Democratic and Republican operatives are viewing the fight, quoting people saying things like “race-baiting” and “atrocious.”

But what’s going on here is really just a fine-point example of what’s happening in other parts of the country without enough journalists to fully explore the fight. The plucky and ideologically pure right is mounting an impressively vicious attack against whomever disagrees with it, and making excellent use of splashy headlines and soundbites to make their gripes into national issues. The left, incredulous as ever at the right’s ability to pass off opinion as fact, responds by appealing to a higher power (in this case, some notion of ethics and integrity) and hopes that by ignoring the loonies the issue will just go away. God forbid anyone should impune the Globe’s integrity.

It’ll be interesting to watch how this plays out. Will the Globe finally feel threatened enough to flex its muscle on the offensive? Will the Herald ever run out of puns about supposed Native American heritage?

At the very least, people in Boston are being treated to a fine example of a dying duel.