Media electoral coverage is terrible

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Media electoral coverage is terrible

Story by Alex Zank

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Wisconsin is in a unique situation.

I guess it doesn’t help the state is often considered a swing state anyways, when it comes to presidential races. It is that time of year again, and it is not the only election the state has to worry about.

In case anyone was not already aware, we have a sort of historic recall election going on as well.

For these aforementioned reasons, being a politically informed Wisconsinite has never been       more important.

Now as the presidential election heats up (just one more thing to add to the electoral smorgasbord in the state), there will be plenty of news coverage on the race.

This leads us to one of the biggest problems this nation has to face.  It is not the political instability — happening both in-state and abroad — nor is it the gridlock in Washington.

It’s a very serious problem our nation and democracy itself faces is the quality of electoral news coverage.

To be blunt, it is terrible. Awful. Appalling.

It is important we as citizens ask ourselves, “What is wrong with media coverage of elections and how should it be fixed?” It turns out, to no surprise, the former is much easier to answer.

There are two main methods of covering politics: One is an issue-based strategy that focuses on the policy and big issues of the campaign.

The bulk of this method is in-depth analysis using experts on the topic and attempts to get the candidates to go beyond political rhetoric.

If any person pays close attention to national election news, they would know this isn’t the type with media coverage we are getting. Everything is based in conflict and the horse race strategy: Who is leading? What tactics are they using?

Talking heads and political pundits who are seen as “experts” love speculating on campaign strategy. At the same time, minor controversies (such as political ads that go “too far”) detract national discussion from what is actually important.

In the end, news consumers are stuck with a load of garbage.

I cannot express how frustrating it is to go to the “politics” section of any media outlet and see nothing but horse race, strategy, speculation and more horse race.

I could go on for what I’d guess to be infinity about how terrible electoral news coverage is, but more important to this discussion is finding a solution.

The answer is truly complex, and would require lots of things to happen. But for now, we as news consumers can start fixing it by not settling for what we have.

If somehow everyone stopped eating up this conflict-based coverage and demanded something better, the media would have no choice but to give us better electoral news.

Here lies another problem: It seems we don’t want that.

As an aggregate audience, we are politically ignorant and do not want to think.

For some reason, it hurts to learn new things.

This leads to another problem that needs addressing. How do we shift consumer demand from dumbed-down to more intelligent news?

Good luck answering that one.

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