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Executive Branch and Control of Regulation

President Bush issued an executive order last week that allows presidential appointees to oversee and approve the actions of government agencies. This puts more control in the hands of the executive branch, giving them control over what Federal agencies can and cannot do, and what they have power over. The White House claims that the move will make agencies more accountable, but critics think it puts too much power in the hands of the president. The likely result of this is less regulation of businesses--so it is being championed by business groups. Consumer, labor, and environmental groups say it reduces the effectiveness of the agencies and makes it harder to protect the overall public good. Also, no one really knows how legal or constitutional this act is, because it has never been done before. No one knows how it will stand up in court.

This story was picked up by the New York Times and the Washington Post.

The New York Times had a lengthy story which covered the story from many, many angles. The reporter, Richard Pear, talked to a lot of people and got many different sides of the story. The challenge with this story is to make it understandable and interesting to the public. It's a story about government policy, which many people are likely to go, so what and who cares. Pear manages to make the story matter. He went beyond reporting the what, to reporting the so what. He also made it matter even more by tying it to the nomination of Susan E. Dudley to be administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs at the Office of Management and Budget. This will likely come up in Congress this session, making it relevant and timely. So Pear went beyond the obvious and managed to make some connections between political happenings in Washington that are boring and confusing to the average reader.

The Washington Post published an article from Reuters, by Tabassum Zakaria. Zakaria faced the challenge fo making this understandable and interesting. She too succeeded in breaking it down for the reader, but not nearly as in depth as the New York Times' article. She also provided quite a bit of information from those who viewed the new order hostility. There were a few quotes from those for the new policy, but they didn't seem as strong. She provided cold, hard numbers, "4,000 regulations a year...192,000 regulations that exist" which helps to put the story in perspective. Zakaria took the more obvious path, not going as in depth as Pear.