Gubernatorial candidate Cahill and Governor Patrick’s response to the current million dollar plus negative television advertising funded by the Republican Governors Association provides an opportunity for educators to bring this story to the attention of their elementary and high school students when the school year begins in September.
If students learn how to evaluate media messages, why voters choose candidates based on an advertisement, and how and why political campaigns employ focus groups to develop media messages, they will learn how to critically evaluate media messages, how to evaluate speakers, how to evaluate writers, and how to form an argument orally and in writing.
Media outlets look forward to the windfall of revenue every election season! Paul J. Gough, in a January 21, 2010 Reuters article entitled, “Supreme Court ruling could boost TV ad business” wrote, “The U.S. Supreme Court’s loosening of restrictions on political ad spending by corporations and others will bring some joy to hard-hit local television stations and make it even more likely that 2010 will be a record year for political ad revenue… The Television Bureau of Advertising earlier predicted that $1.5 billion would go to broadcast TV stations for the 2010 election. Now that’s going to be more like $1.8 billion.” Political campaigns work feverishly to raise enough money to compete for fear of a powerful commercial that may misrepresent their campaign or disparage the candidate personally.
We cannot count on the media outlets to widely publish these facts or to support the public financing of campaigns. Media commentary and negative ads, not news, is what revs up the engines of the blog commentaries and gatekeepers on television, radio, cable, web, and print.
In January, after former Massachusetts State Senator Scott Brown won the U.S. Senate seat previously held by the late Senator Edward Kennedy, I listened to Barbara Walters express her concern about this issue to students at Sarah Lawrence College in New York. “What happened to reporting the news?” she asked. “News is not commentary. Colbert and John Stewart do not report the news.” she added. Walters, a Sarah Lawrence College alumna, visited with students before taping her television interview with the newly elected Brown in Boston.
No one should vote for a candidate based on an advertisement. I think we know this fact but we are caught up in the drama and voyeuristic ride every campaign season.
Why not take the time to critically evaluate the candidate’s political positions before voting? The lack of civic and critical thinking education and absence of public financing of political campaigns are some of the issues that inspire me to run for State Representative in the 10th Suffolk District (West Roxbury, Brookline, and Roslindale).
Why do we as voters get sucked into listening to media reports focused on political
advertisements? How about a political ad boycott? Let main stream media
news outlets know — we don’t care about candidate’s commercials. That 1.8 billion could be invested in candidate and issue forums, green jobs, infrastructure, education, health care, alternative energy, preserving green space…
Report on where the candidates stand on the issues.
Here and now?
Pamela Julian, Brookline resident, is the principal author of pending campus student voter registration bills in Massachusetts and New York. U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) filed a federal version of the Massachusetts bill, State Representative Candidate
10th Suffolk District, West Roxbury, Brookline, Roslindale
Recently vacated seat held by Mike Rush, West Roxbury