I caught a bit of “The O’Reilly Factor” on Thursday. Bill O’Reilly, the titular host of the program, was talking about David Letterman’s recent jokes about Gov. Sarah Palin. Some of the punchlines mentioned Palin’s family, prompting some to say that the humor was out of bounds.
The O’Reilly segment included a list of newspapers that he said had failed to cover Letterman’s comments. The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times were among the newspapers named, and O’Reilly’s guest indicated that the lack of coverage was an indication of anti-Palin bias.
I went to the Web sites of the NYT and LAT to find out more. A couple of simple searches showed that each newspaper has covered the Letterman-Palin flap — in blog form, with several posts on several blogs. For example, the LAT’s popular Top of the Ticket blog has a long post with this headline:
Aging man, 62, jokes about girl, 14 (Letterman on Willow Palin)
This leads to the question: Do blog posts on newspaper sites count as “coverage”? Or is coverage defined as stories in print?
Perhaps O’Reilly and this reader would say the latter. But I think that as journalism expands online and shrinks in print, blogs should be considered a significant piece of a newspaper’s coverage plan.