NEWSWATCH: Guessing Disguised as News

The press could cover better what has happened if it were not so preoccupied with trying to guess what is going to happen next. This occupational tic, this desire to sound "knowing" about the not yet knowable, is what makes so much journalism quickly forgettable. The urge is highly visible during the Reagan interregnum, with Washington reporters and columnists desperately inflating every little nod about future policies, or hint about appointments, from the Reagan camp.

The same desire to hunch the future led to the debacle of the pollsters at election time. In their own defense, pollsters have just...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!