October 31, 2007 Leave a comment
A truism for those of us who study the media and political coverage is what an amazingly bad job the mainstream media does covering political campaigns. The coverage is almost exclusively on the game of politics, who's ahead and who's behind, i.e., the horserace, and sadly lacking in the actual information that citizens in a democracy need. It is pretty clear that most political reporters: 1) love this game aspect of politics, and 2) are woefully uninformed and disinterested about the policy matters which profoundly affect American lives. Despite a lot of media self-flagellation, the coverage is worse than ever. The Times has the details on a recent study conducted by Pew and Harvard (quite ironically, this story is written by Katherine Seeley whom is a high priestess of this fatuous journalism). The highlights:
online) focused on the political aspects of the campaign, while only 1
percent focused on the candidates? public records.
Only 12 percent of stories seemed relevant to voters? decision making; the rest were more about tactics and strategy.
And the following is a really important point– the public not only deserves better, but wants better:
The campaign coverage has been sharply at odds with what the public
says it wants, the study found, with voters eager to know more about
the candidates? positions on issues and their personal backgrounds,
more about lesser-known candidates and more about debates.
the media is even more obsessed this time around with questions of
tactics and strategy, despite what the study described as a
?generational struggle? in both parties. Horse-race stories accounted
for 63 percent of reports this year compared with what the study said
was about 55 percent in 2000 and 2004.
All this, of course, very much reinforces the point I like to hammer home to my students: be aware of what you actually are learning and, importantly, what you are not learning from the media from their distorted focus on the horserace