Op Ed by Elizabeth Edwards calling for real coverage by the MSM in the NYT #6 on the hits parade

(Did you need to know that Elizabeth Edwards is the bomb? - promoted by Charley on the MTA)

I heard Elizabeth Edwards speak about this topic earlier this month in Cambridge at the Kennedy School of Government.  The New York Times has now published her Op Ed on the topic of the failure of the main stream media to cover the issues, and the dumbing down of journalism so as to treat the presidential primary race like a soap opera.  

News is different from other programming on television or other content in print. It is essential to an informed electorate. And an informed electorate is essential to freedom itself. But as long as corporations to which news gathering is not the primary source of income or expertise get to decide what information about the candidates “sells,” we are not functioning as well as we could if we had the engaged, skeptical press we deserve.

And the future of news is not bright. Indeed, we’ve heard that CBS may cut its news division, and media consolidation is leading to one-size-fits-all journalism. The state of political campaigning is no better: without a press to push them, candidates whose proposals are not workable avoid the tough questions. All of this leaves voters uncertain about what approach makes the most sense for them. Worse still, it gives us permission to ignore issues and concentrate on things that don’t matter. (Look, the press doesn’t even think there is a difference!)

What “sells” is a narrative composed of soap opera like trivia.  The title of Elizabeth’s Op Ed is “Bowling 1, Health Care 0″.  To read the entire Op Ed, go to:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04…

This issue really matters.  Without an informed electorate, that votes, democracy itself is at risk.

 


As Elizabeth herself says:

FOR the last month, news media attention was focused on Pennsylvania and its Democratic primary. Given the gargantuan effort, what did we learn?

Well, the rancor of the campaign was covered. The amount of money spent was covered. But in Pennsylvania, as in the rest of the country this political season, the information about the candidates’ priorities, policies and principles – information that voters will need to choose the next president – too often did not make the cut.

Frankly, I don’t care what Obama’s former preacher has to say about anything.  I would far rather hear from Obama and Hilary – in depth, about how they would deal with congress, with health care, with education, and with diplomacy.

Instead, we get the distasteful spectacle of a non-candidate’s harangues being given more attention then the candidates themselves!  I have some strong opinions as to what may motivate that old man to hog the limelight; so much so I will not even use his name.  

The main stream media should not cater to such a circus and waste precious communications media when real information is NOT being conveyed about the candidates themselves.

It is time that you and I demand more from newspapers and radio then a glorified soap opera.

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2 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. hear, hear!

    I swear, half the reason I fell in love with Edwards was because of the other Edwards, his wife. She's a remarkable women and I wish I could have had the chance to vote for her. Hopefully McCain's Healthcare "plan" and Edwards's critiques will redirect the media's attention onto the issues that matter, especially since it's important the American people know just how much of a disaster a McCain presidency could be to the health of this nation - pun intended.  

  2. Calling the news media - step up!

    Thanks for this post!  I also heard Elizabeth Edwards speak at the Kennedy School at the same Forum and thought she was very compelling.  She made a point that the only way candidates can get their policy proposals into the news now are by constructing "30-second" zingers as hooks -- e.g. "The only thing that John McCain and I have in common is that we would both not be covered by his health care plan."  Awesome.

    Also, that Joe Biden had to work so hard to get what I believe Elizabeth Edwards said was only 1 NYT front page mention over the course of the 2008 primary season is depressing, esp. given the meaningful set of experiences and skills he brings to the table.  Hillary and Barack are compelling candidates, absolutely, but they also happen to be the final two candidates that would make the best news coverage.  How much do we know about their policy proposals as opposed to the totally allowable but potentially distorting emotional pulls of identity politics?  

    In any case, it is one thing to say to the media to step up, but I do think that one way that we as citizens have created a space for these substantive conversations is through National Public Radio and grassroots blogs.  Thank goodness for BMG!

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Wed 27 Aug 5:04 AM