Tuesday, October 7, 2008

NBC-TV: Here's the Issue... But Who's Voting?

by Samantha Pompeo

News programs on NBC, especially the Nightly News, are doing their best to make sure voters are informed about the issues. But at some point there has to be a deeper dive into what's the stance and how it can/will affect the future. For the first time on NBC, I saw them taking a real step toward doing just that. With the Supreme Court back in session, new focus is being put on the make-up of the justices. Of the nine justices on the court, four are considered liberal and four are considered conservative. Justice Kennedy is often the swing vote. But, as a piece on Nightly News points out, some of the justices are reaching retirement age. The next president will have a lot of influence over monumental cases when it would come time for him to nominate someone to take a place on the court.

One of the "hot topics" that would come before the Supreme Court is abortion. Each person on the ticket has a different view on the issue and NBC did its best in trying to show each candidate's opinion. The moment the story began, I had to wonder about the choice of using a woman. On one hand, was it a little sexist to assume that a woman would be the obvious choice to talk about abortion? Or, is it wrong to even think that because if a man would present the story, one could question how much a change in law would affect his rights? I'm torn on the subject of who should present a story like this, which hurts me (the viewer) the most because I'm then paying attention to who is presenting the story and not what it is about.

And then we get to the polls... It seems that every story, regardless of what program, includes a poll. But is a poll really representative of the nation's feelings? Personally, I've never been contacted to be involved in one of these "scientific" polls so how much can it reflect my feelings as a voter? It doesn't. It might display similar results but it isn't reflecting my feelings. So, what does NBC decide to do? They put together a story made only of polls.

As if one wasn't enough, let's include 15. Although it's semi-informative about the "general" beliefs of voters, it doesn't give the real results. But, I suppose the United States will never have the real results until everyone old enough to vote goes to vote on election day. Only then would America's real feelings about the candidates be known.

At the end of October, former MTV political correspondent Gideon Yago came to Ohio University to speak about voting. As expected, he talked a lot about the youth vote and getting our age group to get involved. According to Yago, 1 in 4 people in the United States lands in the 16-26 age group. I began to wonder if NBC tried to cater to this number. And, although I wasn’t shocked by my findings, I was disheartened by it. In all the coverage of NBC news I watched this past week, the youth vote was never mentioned. If our age group shows up to the polls in record numbers, as is highly expected, shouldn’t there be some type of spotlight on topics that matter to us?

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