An announcement made Friday surprised much of the world.
The media, so often on top of top breaking stories, with sources giving them hints to what might be coming was also among those dumbfounded. President Obama was awarded the Novel Peace Prize early Friday, and the media had to quickly adapt to the news. Even the President was shocked upon hearing the news, originally suspecting that the news was a joke. From the national stage to international stage, various media outlets took different takes on the subject. Immediate opinionated reactions became more well-thought out as the weekend progressed.
The New York Times by virtue of maintaining a political blog on its website was able to comment on the coverage of others, providing links to other perspectives. Before giving examples to some of those perspectives, a pair of writers on the Caucus blog summarized, “Nearly all agree it’s a rather stunning award for someone who hasn’t been in the presidency even a year, coupled with two wars, an economic downslide, the Iranian threat as well as the intractable Mideast problems.” The ability of the Times to provide different views makes their coverage stand out because it moves away from bias and short-sighted view.
The best news reports provide context to stories and answer the important question of “why.” In this case, why Obama won the award was left up to interpretation. Reports like on the Caucus that pointed to a Foreign Policy magazine article from earlier this year that described the motives and choices of the Nobel Prize commission as without a doubt political helped move in the right direction toward answering that question of why. For a news story so simple that it could be summed up in six words—Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize—opinionated coverage such as those from editorials and blogs seem to provide the best context. Everyone wanted to know why and what it meant.
Time Magazine’s Joe Klein’s editorial seemed to ask more questions than it answered: “In the end, this premature prize is a significant challenge for the President: Will Barack Obama use it to demonstrate that he actually has the courage, moral fortitude, intelligence and creativity that the award portends?” Back at the Times, Ross Douthat was much more blunt and straightforward, “…he’s made failure, if and when it comes, that much more embarrassing and difficult to bear…he’s etched in stone the phrase with which critics will dismiss his presidency…Jimmy “Malaise” Carter. Dubya the Incompetent. And now Barack Obama, Nobel laureate.”