Today's San Diego Union Tribune has an interesting headline: Pope Says Jihad Not God's Plan. Actually, that's not news. News would be: Pope Says Jihad Is God's Plan.
I'm amazed at how comprehensive is the coverage of sports. That's news. It includes analysis, personalities, stories, and strategy, but sports news always has a large infusion of numbers: passing yards, runs scored, field goal percentage, etc. Given that sports coverage is so focused on so many statistics, fans can easily track how their teams and players are doing. Performance is well understood and easy to track.
By contrast, news coverage of important events - like healthcare coverage, performance of schools or businesses, progress or setbacks in war - suffers from a far different ratio of analysis, speculation, and prognosis to actual statistics. That is to say, there is a paucity of statistics and an abundance of analysis. This is partly because the stakes are higher and the timeframe is longer: the sports fan can measure progress every minute of the game. Statistics measuring policy comes more slowly and the variables that impact outcomes like unemployment, crime, teen pregnancy, life expectancy, and inflation are more complex.
Nonetheless, it seems as though a news program that would focus on quality of life statistics in the same way that ESPN analysts focused on Ryan Howard or David Ortiz's homerun totals would be engaging and quite feasible in this age of 24-hour news coverage. Given that there is so much at stake in this game of policy formulation, one might think that the media could offer coverage that was as grounded in real metrics and real outcomes as the coverage of grown men playing games.