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Media love and the presidential race

August 8, 2008
by kate
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The 2008 presidential race has been one of the most intense in recent memory — and one of the longest, come to think of it. It’s been going on for years and has hit a level of interest far beyond those in past years for several reasons. One of the things I’ve found particularly intriguing about the 2008 race has been the disparity in media coverage. When it comes to face time, Senator Barack Obama is clearly in the lead. There are a number of possible explanations, such as the fact the he exerts a youthful energy (I refuse to use the word “charisma”, which has been, to put it mildly, overused), or the fact that he is African American, or the fact that he has only been a senator for four years. But no matter how you slice it, Obama is getting more media attention.

A few weeks ago, Obama graced the cover of Rolling Stone, where he was featured in what my college advisor back at Bloomsburg University would have called a “puff piece.” Dr. Brasch would have slammed the article (and probably given it a D), inquiring in his trademark red marker why an article would delve so deeply into just one half of the presidential race. “Where’s the rest?,” he would probably scribble across the top. Maybe he’s right — when it comes to the coverage of this election, where is the rest?

The more I think about it, the more the 2008 race reminds me of my journalism classes. Dr. Brasch would’ve ripped the media coverage we’ve seen to pieces, blasting the editors at magazines like Rolling Stone (which, let’s face it, isn’t the most serious publication in the world) for abandoning everything they should have learned in school about a journalist’s duty to maintain at least some degree of objectivity.

People might say – hey, it’s their magazine, they can do want they want with it. And that’s true, but as a member of the media, I expect more than that. I expect people who call themselves journalists to be able to put aside their views and present an unbiased product to the people — or if not unbiased, then at least mention both sides. Present the facts, and let the public decide.

Dr. Brasch, by the way, was “about as far to the left as you can get” with his political views, as he would say, but it never came through in his teachings, not once. To do anything less, he figured, would be a disservice to his students and would insult their intelligence.

Doesn’t the American public deserve the same treatment? Isn’t it the media’s job to present all the information they have about both candidates and let the public decide how they feel? Or if nothing else, at least come up with a synonym for “charisma”.

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Comments

great post Kate it's clear that the media has gotten so caught up in "Obamamania" they've left their ethics in the classroom

It certainly has been a very different political campaign than years past. I think there are a number of factors, including the lack of an incumbent or VP running. There is no doubt that there is bias. An MSNBC reporter stated that he got goose bumps on his legs when he interviewed Obama. That was a little too much information for me!
There is also a tendency in the media to report only bad news. I participated in numerous humanitarian military medicine missions to Haiti and remote Inupiat villages in Alaska. We could not get any coverage about what the military was doing, unless we burned down some huts.
I don't look at it as much as a conspiracy, but more of the tendency that "If it bleeds, it leads." We all slow down and look at car crashes we want to see how much damage was done. Our reading habits are the same when it comes to news. We skip over the Boy Scout community projects story and go right for the John Edwards political crash and burn story. Obama is the different candidate that is non-conventional and so we slow our cars down and look. Of course the public gets tired of the fluff and moves on quickly. Soon they will want to find out more information. The question is will they find anything of substance to print.

kate

Kate Huvane, Associate Editor of...