The mainstream media is an essential component of the democratic process in America in that people's perceptions of events, candidtaes and issues is largely shaped by their coverage.  Over the years, media coverage of elections has devolved into a mixture of discussions of images, superficial probing of issues, or calling a horse race.

Since the Kennedy-Nixon debates, candidates have become increasingly aware of the impact of television coverage.  Nixon hired Madison avenue types to run his campaign which was transformed into one long commericial selling of a product.  For example the ads questioning John Kerry's medals received during the Vietnam war must have been written in the sewer.  Protraying Dukakis as a liberal and soft on crime was a egregious distortion of the truth. Issues almost seem to be incidental when unfortunate pronouncements of candidates are elevated to the level of critical issues.  Every candidate will make the occasional slip but to treat it as a major story is appealing to the lowest common denominator. Anchors and commentators love to analyze polls to death treating the election as a horse race.  Either the latest polls or how each candidate is faring in different States is a mugs game.  Instead of tryng to second-guess the voters, the media should be focusing on issues.  Ominously, discussing polls might even affect how voters will vote.

As long as the media is appealing to the baser instincts of their audience and insulting their intelligence, they should be offering an in-depth analysis of issues so that the voters have a choice.


Tags: Elections, Images, mainstream media (all tags)




Not to make to big a point out of it but your title really does a disservice to Mickey:)

As to the rest of your post I agree to a point.  Until the majority of the American people, the MSMs audience, demands better or proves to the MSM that theirs is not a winning strategy for ratings. We are somewhat stuck.

So while I lay some of blame at the medias feet. I think we also have ourselves to blame, as well.

by jsfox 2008-07-17 11:24AM | 0 recs

I disagree. Once upon a time, journalists believed that it is their job to educate the public about issues in an objective manner and to NEVER make themselves a part of the story. This is what they were taught in journalism school and it was expected that journalistic ethics would be adhered to by reporters, editors and publishers. The news departments at networks were considered to be public service programming (required by the FCC back in the day) and not expected to be a profit-making.

The corporate ownership of the MSM has turned what used to be "news" into "info-tainment", designed to boost ratings, increase advertising revenue and further the coprorate agenda.

The corporate media won't respond to public demand for "better" programming unless there is some threat to their profit-making ability. In the current situation, they're making lots of money, they're able to endlessly propagandize to further their own interests, and those of their big advertisers.

by LakersFan 2008-07-17 11:49AM | 0 recs

I do not disagree with what was.

by jsfox 2008-07-17 11:55AM | 0 recs


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