Tuesday, October 14, 2008

NBC-TV: Equal Treatment for All?

by Samantha Pompeo

As the election inches closer and closer and polls are more frequent than ever, I began to wonder if NBC was giving equal amounts of airtime to both candidates. So, once again, I watched an array of news clips on the network to see if that was the case.

In the following clip from Nightly News, there are essentially two packages in one. The first minute and a half talks about John McCain's rally in Virginia, and the second half describes Barack Obama's trip to Toledo, Ohio. But even though the candidates receive the same amount of airtime, are they getting the same treatment?

The package about John McCain is about his strategy of instilling words like fight into his campaign to appear stronger. He is only seen as a talking head behind a podium. The reporter even mentions that McCain was supposed to take questions at the end, but perhaps due to fear, decided not to. In contrast, Barack Obama is seen walking the streets of Toledo and talking to people suffering because of the economy. He is also shown as a talking head, but not to the extent of John McCain. Although it could seem that Obama is getting better treatment by the story, that may not be true. As a viewer, one has to think about the fact that a reporter can only create a story out of what is there. Digging deep will only go so far if the story is just a talking head at a rally.

Last week, I suggested the youth vote was nowhere to be found in the news. But this week, the Today Show proved me wrong.

As a child, it I read The Scholastic News every month. Now that I'm older, it's refreshing to see that Scholastic News is still taking every step to help educate the youth of America. Although the discussion between the Scholastic reporters and Today Show anchors is silly to say the least, it's a good reflection that people, even ones who can't vote for many years, have a great interest in this election. And looking at the statistics, that the students have only inaccurately predicted two of the last 13 elections, perhaps this is the only poll we should be focusing on.

Anyone who knows me will tell you that I love entertainment news. And it appears I'm not the only one. It seems the more salacious a story, the more interest it gets from viewers. That could be why The Today Show had a story on Bristol Palin's future husband.

Although the story was interesting, is it newsworthy? Some would say yes, but what was learned.. that Levi Johnston has a Bristol Palin tattoo? Cute, but what does that have to do with the politics of the campaign? In a time when this election is so monumental, so historic, does a 17-year-old's tattoo need to be discussed? Regardless of your feelings about the Palin family, I have to wonder if this story really matters. Typically, I would be the first to say yes, bring on the gossip. But, that doesn't help me learn about the McCain/Palin ticket's stance on social security. It doesn't give me any new information about the campaign itself, just about a 17-year-old Alaskan boy who is marrying a girl he impregnated. And it's not as if it was an exclusive interview with Levi Johnston. It was only a slideshow of pictures while the AP reporter who interviewed him described what happened. Newsworthy? I have my doubts. As teen pregnancy becomes less taboo than ever before, does this really matter? If Bristol Palin wasn't pregnant, if it was any Jane Smith from the midwest, there would not be a story about it on the Today Show. And maybe, at least until this election is decided, it should stay that way.

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