JOURNALISTIK | Det är inte ovanligt att amerikanska reportrar tecknar ner sina erfarenheter från de presidentvalskampanjer man har bevakat.
En av de mer underhållande är klassikern The Boys on the Bus av Timothy Crouse.
Crouse var reporter på tidskriften Rolling Stone när han bevakade presidentvalet 1972. Om man skall vara petig handlar boken minst lika mycket – om inte mer – om alla reportrar som följer ”sina” presidentkandidater på bussar och flygplan.
Här är några nedslag i boken:
It was just these womblike conditions that gave rise to the notorious phenomenon called “pack journalism” (also known as “herd journalism” and “fuselage journalism”). A group of reporters were assigned to follow a single candidate for weeks or months at a time, like a pack of hounds sicked on a fox. Trapped on the same bus or plane, they ate, drank, gambled, and compared notes with the same bunch of colleagues week after week.
Actually, this group was as hierarchical as a chess set. The pack was divided into cliques-the national political reporters from the big, prestige papers and the ones from the small papers; the wire-service men; the network correspondents; and other configurations that formed according to age and old Washington friendships. The most experienced national political reporters, wire men, and big-paper reporters, who were at the top of the pecking order, often did not know the names of the men from the smaller papers, who were at the bottom. But they all fed off the same pool report, the same daily handout, the same speech by the candidate; the whole pack was isolated in the same mobile village. After a while, they began to believe the same rumors, subscribe to the same theories, and write the same stories.
Everybody denounces pack journalism, including the men who form the pack. Any self-respecting journalist would sooner endorse incest than come out in favor of pack journalism. It is the classic villain of every campaign year. Many reporters and journalism professors blame it for everything that is shallow, obvious, meretricious, misleading, or dull in American campaign coverage.
Campaign journalism is, by definition, pack journalism; to follow a candidate, you must join a pack of other reporters; even the most independent journalist cannot completely escape the pressures of the pack.
There is nothing drearier than following a loser all the way to his grave. The candidate is exhausted, the staff is crabby, the hotels are bad and get worse, and the campaign generates less and less news. Off in the distance is the Winner’s campaign-a cornucopia of big stories, excitement, power, money, and a burgeoning sense of promise. Everybody in the business is suddenly talking about the Winner’s campaign. The best reporters seem to be there. It grows like a fad; you have to be there, at the center of the action.
If you stayed away from the campaign for any period of time and then came back on again, the first thing that stuck you was the shocking physical deterioration of the press corps. During the summer, the reporters had looked fairly healthy. Now their skin was pasty and greenish, they had ugly dark pouches under their glazed eyes, and their bodies had become bloated with the regimen of nonstop drinking and five or six starchy airplane meals every day. Toward the end, they began to suffer from a fiendish combination of fatigue and anxiety. They had arrived at the last two weeks, when the public finally wanted to read about the campaign- front-page play every day!-and they were so tired that it nearly killed them to pound out a decent piece.
During the last week, the press bus looked like a Black Maria sent out to round up winos; half the reporters were passed out with their mouths wide open and their notebooks fallen in their laps. When they were awake, they often wandered like zombies.
Förordet i boken är skrivet av Hunter S. Thompson. Gonzo journalistikens fader var en av de journalister som bevakade valet 1972. Även han skulle skriva ner sina efarenheter i bokform – Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail ’72.