The Tone Deaf Political Media

April 22nd, 2008

Ok, really, this is about all media. But since Primary Election Day has finally arrived in Pennsylvania, we’ll focus on the political media that has covered the presidential campaign for the past six weeks.

The past six weeks have been frantic for the candidates, crisscrossing the Commonwealth in the effort to woo voters. I know this because for each of the past 42 days, there has been a story in the papers about the candidates frantically criss-crossing the Commonwealth to woo voters. What else have we learned? Barack can’t bowl. Hillary can do shots. Sleep deprivation makes both candidates misspeak and/or lie, depending on your political leanings.

So, while most folks acknowledge that we want change—certainly these two candidates have focused on that—the media has shown no inclination to change. It is still unable to cover politics in a new and different way. They are all either Beltway insiders, or they want to be. Their primary goal seems to be to ride on the back of John McCain’s Straight Talk Express or on Air Force One and have the chance to hang out with other political reporters, talking politics. Or, more accurately, talking about campaign coverage.

So here’s the main point—political journalists are largely oblivious to the lives of their readers and viewers. The media—whether covering politics, sports, City Hall, whatever—really don’t know how to give news to the news-consuming public.

They are still covering politics as if it were 50 years ago, failing to acknowledge that the world in 2008 requires a new way. When all you do is follow the candidates from photo op to photo op, it’s hard to see what really matters. I have a silly image in my head of Roman political reporters typing away on their laptops about the race for Emperor while the city burns.

It’s time to stop breathlessly following the candidates to all their little campaign stops. It’s time for political reporters to lift up their heads and take a look around.

Simply doing more of the same is not good enough.

Posted Under: Media & Journalism
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