There are so many silly charges flying back and forth and non-news news stories (The VP pick could come this week or not!) that it is sometimes tough to figure out what happened to good old-fashioned news judgment. In fact, the trivial has largely subsumed the critical. Here’s a guide I hope news producers, pundits and voters might consult:

Unimportant: Politico reports (at the top of its Web site, no less!) “President Barack Obama’s Jobs Council hasn’t met publicly for six months, even as the issue of job creation dominates the 2012 election.” That would only be a concern if this group had relevance or power. It doesn’t.

Important: The Senate hasn’t passed a budget in three years. This is its job, and it is a disgrace it won’t act, even in the face of the fiscal cliff.

Unimportant: What is in Mitt Romney’s taxes.

Important: What will happen to the Bush tax cuts. The Post reports:

Commissioned by a host of pro-business advocacy groups, Ernst & Young conducted this latest study in an effort to predict the long-term economic impact of letting the top rates increase at year’s end — and the findings stand in stark contrast to the repeated assurances from Democrats that their proposal would have minimal effect on small business owners.

Researchers determined the plan would actually subject 2.1 million business owners to higher rates; specifically, those who pay pass-through taxes, like most partnerships, LLCs and S-Corporations. The result, less capital in the hands of business owners and diminished labor supply, would cost the United States an estimated $200 billion in economic output and 710,000 jobs.

Moreover, business owners and the unemployed won’t be the only ones adversely affected, according to the study, which predicts that employers would also be forced to trim their workers’ wages by 1.8 percent.

Unimportant: The horse Ann Romney owns.

Important: What Obama thinks it takes to own a business. This lovely story that has gone viral should be read in full. Here’s a snippet:

When I heard President Obama’s comments about people who start businesses, how they didn’t do it by themselves, how they aren’t smarter, and how they don’t work harder, I thought about Bob Brunton. When he started his drug store, Bob had to take all the financial risk of failure. He had to stay open long hours each day and worked weekends, too, for years until he had a solid client base and could afford to work fewer hours. But even when I was there, Bob was putting in a lot of time. He didn’t take off for lunch. He just heated a little container in the microwave and kept going.

Over time, he extended his business to include a local branch of the Roche medical labs. Bob managed his drugstore and the medical lab at the same time. . . . Bob Brunton worked hard. Bob Brunton took financial risks. And Bob Brunton was smart about the way he conducted his business. I’m sorry to say that Bob didn’t live all that long after he retired. He had given a lot of himself to his work.

Unimportant: The biographical archaeologyeach side is pushing (e.g., cocaine use, bullying, Obama’s grades, Romney’s take-home pay in the 1990s).

Important: Whether Democrats will bully the country into raising taxes by threatening to go over the fiscal cliff: “Democrats battled accusations from Republicans on Tuesday that they are endangering the economy by threatening to end the Bush-era tax rates on the wealthy. . . . The pressure puts Democrats in a difficult spot, as just this week they threatened to let the ‘fiscal cliff’ issues — including expiration of the George W. Bush-era tax rates, sharp cuts in defense spending and a sheer drop in Medicare payments to doctors — fall into next year if Republicans insist on extending lower tax rates for the wealthiest Americans.”