For months, the news about President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better legislation has featured obsessive coverage of the backroom politics of the bill rather than its contents.

If you know far more than you want about Sen. Kyrsten Sinema and the man who may have just tanked the bill, Sen. Joe Manchin, that’s because news stories have “breathlessly focused on the behind-the-scenes wrangling and hour-by-hour negotiations around the legislation. How much has been slashed from the bill today? What does it mean for the future of the Democratic and Republican parties?” writes scholar Angela Bradbery, who teaches public interest communications at the University of Florida.

Such horse-race journalism discourages people from caring about legislation. Bradbery asks what would happen if the press had, instead, focused on how the bill would affect real people. Bottom line: Democracy benefits.

Also today:

  • Dry places got drier and wet places wetter in 2021
  • For the midterms, 331 jurisdictions in 30 states will offer voting materials in languages other than English
  • What is the point of giving gifts?

  • Naomi Schalit

    Senior Editor, Politics + Society

    Reporters waiting outside a private meeting between advisers to President Biden and Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema about the Build Back Better Act on Capitol Hill, Sept. 30, 2021. AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

    Don’t care about the Build Back Better Act? Hearing people’s personal stories might change that

    Angela Bradbery, University of Florida

    A quarter of Americans don’t know how they feel about the Build Back Better Act. Focusing on Americans’ individual stories – and not just political theater – could help fuel civic engagement.

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