Kate McMillan is amused at the AP’s fawning reports on President Obama’s non-State of the Union speech and especially by the fact that they were written before said speech was actually given.
The practice of writing up reports based on prepared remarks is hardly new, of course, but it is rather odd. The general practice is to write up a preview article in future tense (“Obama will say” or “Obama is expected to announce”) and then transform it into a past-tense article once the speech has been delivered but sometimes reporters just skip ahead.
While rather surreal, it’s actually a good thing to have this reporting — so long as it’s later followed by reporting on the actual event.
Most obviously, it gets the information out there faster.
Additionally, it ensures at least one round of coverage of the substance of the remarks rather than the optics of the delivery. As Steven Taylor has argued for years, the lasting impression of a speech is formed from a handful of soundbytes played the next day on radio and television. Since seasoned speechwriters can predict what those will be in advance, they can use them to bury the more mundane parts of the speech. This way, we have the Ron Fourniers of the world — not to mention hundreds of bloggers — actually read the damn thing.