In what is almost certainly the first example - and one can hope the beginning of a trend - of an expansion of time to gather news (rather than a compression) the publishers and editors of George magazine have announced the monthly publication will concentrate on, of all things, 'breaking news.'
At a time when other media - newspapers, radio, TV and the Internet - are sharply cutting preparation time in an attempt to shave off seconds so as to make 'news' delivery time shorter and increase the opportunity to be 'first,' George is stepping back. If ever the magazine goes quarterly, the 'breaking news' is likely to be 'Spring Will Be a Little Late This Year,' or 'Fall Holidays to Arrive on Schedule, Savant Avers.'
So far, the March issue tested its new edgy, slam-bang breaking news coverage with a cover story on presidential candidate Donald Trump, his fund-raising, book sales and his girlfriend's modeling fees. With the magazine on the stands for two days (only 28 days left, guys, plenty of time to cover the Bradley phenomenon), Trump withdrew from a race he had hardly even entered.
The May issue, we are told (we don't see much of George in Washington), will feature a split cover. 'The Untold Elian Story' (before he left Miami) will be on newsstands, and for home delivery, there will be a feature story on the presidential race, based on incredible allegations that both Vice President Gore and Gov. Bush shaved the truth in campaign statements.
Americans will be shocked, shocked, to hear this.
The new editor of George credited its founder, John F. Kennedy Jr., with what he called a 'terrific insight' - that 'the culture drives politics What we talk about leads to the politicians setting policy goals and then that becomes what the political discussion is about.'
But who decides what we talk about? Every day, smart, well-informed people sit around PR firms and make lists of influentials and opinion leaders who can be stimulated one way or another so as to get a buzz going, whether among gossip columnists, editorial writers or activists of various kinds. If they are successful, political currency has been established and policy conversation abounds.
By the time enough guests have been placed on enough talk shows, the buzz is on and the 'discussion' has begun. But I think JFK Jr. had it wrong and the 19th century American humorist Finley Peter Dunne had it right. When his fictional Mr. Dooley was asked by his bartender whether he thought colleges had much to do with world progress, Mr. Dooley replied, 'D'you think it's the mill makes the water run?'