Wednesday, November 5, 2008 Obama In, McCain Out

by: Julie Hartz

Walking into a bar in Athens filled with "Students For Obama", College Democrats, and numerous Democrat supporters, I saw tears, laughter, fist pumps, and utter awe. They had worked so hard and so long, and finally got the result they wanted.

Obama's victory last night isn't just one for him. It's one for our entire country because it represents a huge leap into the future. His electoral landslide victory was shocking to me, and I'm sure to those McCain supporters who thought it was going to be a lot closer.

According to, the popular vote was also a pretty decisive result. Obama got 52-percent, and McCain 46-percent.

I must admit, as a journalist, I was THRILLED when the election was pretty much decided at 11PM. Remember just four years ago? Coming into the night fearing a repeat of what happened, I was ecstatic when McCain decided to make his concession speech as soon as the polls closed on the West Coast.

And all of this was largely in part to Ohio's role as a swing state. Looking at the popular vote map of Ohio early in the night, it looked like it would be a shoe-in for McCain. But once only a third of the results were in, all of the major news networks were calling Obama's victory in this key state which almost always predicts the winner of the White House.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

ABC.COM: Finale

Nina Wieczorek

Election day has finally come. The campaigns are almost over and now they wait and see what their two years of work was worth. And that's true not only for the campaigns, but also the media. The voter is going to make his or her decision based on different factors, including how well the media informed him. So how did the media do their job? Did they answer the important questions (who stands for what, why is this happening,...)? Were they unbiased?

Biden not Present
If you take a look at, you'll only find pro Obama ads, McCain bought no space for ads. And if you look at the editorial content, mostly it's about Obama or Sarah Palin, followed by McCain and Joe Biden is hard to find. Since the beginning, articles about the democratic Vice-presidential candidate were rare. Why? Is it, because the democratic camp already gets enough coverage by all the attention Obama draws, or is it, because Biden is not interesting enough (especially in comparison to newcomer Palin)? So the media covers the one who offers them more to talk about?

After the Election
After the election two will have won, and two will have lost. The losers might go back to where they came from, which would mean for example, Palin will go back to Alaska. But, what if she doesn't go back to Alaska, but tries to stay visible – for example with a tv-show of her own? After this experience it will be interesting to see if she feels Alaska is too small for her.

Write a Book
If so, and it doesn't work out with the tv-show, she can still write a book. Just like Joe the Plumber, aka Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher. Something from behind the did she get the ticket? How did she get prepared for the national and international stage? And how was talking to Nicholas Sarkozy?

Monday, November 3, 2008

CNN-TV: Wait, other people are running for president?

by Christina London

Well, the bus stops here. After what seems like an endless campaign, I cannot believe that we (God-willing) will have a new president tomorrow. Many people I’ve talked to are plain sick of election coverage. But you have to admit, it’s going to be strange putting on CNN and not hearing the latest on Barack Obama and John McCain. So with mere hours remaining until the votes are tallied, what does CNN chose to cover? The surprising answer: third-party candidates.

Barr and Nader: Revealed
Last week on CNN’s American Morning, anchor Kiran Chetry did a double interview with Libertarian Bob Barr and Independent Ralph Nader. (According to the latest CNN Poll of Polls, Nader currently has 3% of the vote, and Barr is holding steady with 2%.)

Now, I've been following CNN's election coverage for two months and hadn't heard a single mention about Nader or Barr until this week. In my opinion, we should have been hearing more. In a race with states "too close to call," two or three percentage points are a big deal. Regardless, I say better late than never. This interview was a refreshing break from the wall-to-wall coverage of political rallies.

Don’t know much about the “major” third-party candidates for president? Here are some quick facts:

Bob Barr (Libertarian Party)
  • Vice President: Wayne Allyn Root

  • Wants to cut every area of government spending

  • Supports "consumer-oriented" health care

  • Thinks the federal government shouldn't decide can and cannot marry

  • Ralph Nader (Independent)
  • Vice President: Matt Gonzales

  • Wants to stop the bailout

  • Supports universal health care

  • Supports equal rights for same-sex couples

  • One Vote for Barr
    Over the past seven days, CNN has covered more than its fair share of polls and the horse race. However, I've also seen some outstanding stories about real people and real voters. This is by far my favorite from the campaign season:

    MSNBC-TV: Last minute coverage...before the BIG day

    by Brooks Jarosz

    People are heading to the polls! Even before November 4th, voters have turned out in swarms to make their voices heard early. Since I knew I would be covering local elections, I was one of those people. I headed into the board of election in Athens on Friday morning and was out within twenty minutes! Of course by midday the line was out the door and down the street.

    The news networks were building up for the big day. Both NBC and MSNBC took time out of their broadcasts to promote thier election coverage. The most interesting I heard about was ABC's use of all the Times Square jumbotrons to broadcast election results. MSNBC has an interactive dashboard to keep up with all of the results. They also explain how many people are taking part in activities on the web this election.

    Covering the states to watch
    Brian Williams checked in with a number of reporters covering the key swing states. I thought this was effective not only in coverage, but also in promoting NBC as a worthwhile election resource. He started with a reporter in Florida who spoke of the varied support in that state. I never knew the northern part of Florida is primarily conservative whereas the southern tip is mostly liberal. The candidates are fighting for independents who usually reside in the middle part of the state. Interesting facts!

    Another swing state covered was Virginia, where no democrat has won since 1964, before electing Lyndon B. Johnson. The late Tim Russert's son covered Indiana and mentioned the youth vote, where of some 300,000 new voters, 125,000 are under age 25. My overall impression of the coverage was fast-paced and engaging, making it an exciting atmosphere all over the country.

    Polls and targets...are they matching up?
    Over 150 national polls have been taken over this past week. Most of them show Obama ahead by two to 12 percentage points. My question always is how reliable and accurate are these polls? MSNBC must be pretty confident, as they constantly talk polls and run state polls at the bottom of the screen. One recent Quinnapiac Poll says Obama is ahead 52 percent to McCain's 42 percent. While it might be ok to predict, I would be careful in what I was saying or observing.

    Two political analysts, Peter Hart and Neil Newhouse commented on the overall campaigns. Hart mentioned Obama has been attracting independents, blue collar workers, suburban people and those between the age of 18 and 34. They both agree that having the legend lower will help keep things away from the top.

    Since the economy is so important, many independents have been turning to Obama and his platform to learn more.

    It should be an exciting election. Other than the eight calls I received from political campaigns I got today, it was an enjoyable day. Tomorrow, preparation will take place for cut ins on WOUB-TV with coverage of the state and local issues. Now, it's all up to the battleground states. It is proving to be a well covered contest! The Final Countdown

    by Cristina Mutchler

    Barack Obama Up Close and Personal
    Just one day before the election, posted this article and video about Obama's feelings regarding his wife, Michelle, as a campaign target, as well as his Kenyan aunt who is an illegal immigrant in this country. I thought this was a particularly interesting twist to the interview, because throughout the campaign I have not heard much about this aunt and I don't think it has been made a big deal. When people in this country hear the word illegal immigrant, they immediately think of Mexicans, and I think that this part of the article could be potentially used to educate others, if nothing else. I also believe that had this "illegal immigrant" family member been of Mexican descent, the story would have taken a different turn and portrayed more negatively. Watch and decide for yourself!

    New Poll Findings
    The longest, most expensive presidential campaign in U.S. history is coming to an end, and a poll shows that Republican candidate John McCain has gained some ground in the poll numbers. However, at this point, Obama is staying steady with a nine-point advantage among likely voters. The Democratic ticket leads the Republican ticket with 51 percent to 42 percent of likely U.S. voters. Just on Sunday, another CBS News poll showed that Obama and Biden's ticket had a 13-point lead, which has now been narrowed.

    Presidential Questions

    In the last "Presidential Questions" section for this campaign season, CBS News anchor Katie Couric asks the candidates several interesting questions, including what they would like to have on their tombstone. I thought that seemed a bit menacing with the election one day away and with the passing of Obama's grandmother.

    Another question that I found interesting had to do with campaign management. Couric asked the candidates when was the last time they fired someone who has worked for them. McCain answered that it was when his campaign had serious problems and was going in the wrong direction. He said that he had to make a change in the campaign. Obama's response was more ambigous, as he says that he has had to fire people during the course of the campaign due to people making mistakes or causing drama. He did not, however, want to name these folks, as he "didn't want to embarass them."

    Blogger's Note
    With Tuesday being the end to this race, I hope that you found this blog interesting and/or were enticed to check out or other network outlets to form your own opinions. I've had fun analyzing the coverage and by this time next week, we will officially have a new president to blog about. Thanks!

    NBC Final Spurt: Mainstream Media Buffet With Some Deli Stuff

    by Stine Eckert
    For this blog I concentrate on NBC's videos in the Latest Program, Web Only, and Politics section as well as on the First Read blog, which is part of MSNBC.

    Staring at this stage for two months: the NBC Nightly News online video player. Sometimes confusing and redundant, this is a neat set-up to watch current and archived videos. This is the last blog post as our project ends with election day on November 4, 2008.

    THE election

    Of course a week before THE election on planet earth users could find in NBC Nightly News' online video player oodles of tidbits about THE election: snafus in early voting, Laura Bush stumping in Kentucky, the candidates fight against illness, interpretation of polls, campaign trail coverage of Pennsylvania and Ohio... NBC's online election buffet offered a little bit for everyone who likes a mainstream media diet. Among the deluge of videos I just picked a handful of worthwhile clips and point out a couple of bad apples in the batch.

    NBC made some interesting attempts to cover the right stuff: issues like green energy, science, and education, another third candidate, questioning the power of polls, the heated issue of homosexuality on the Californian ballot, and even a peak beyond its own nose – at least sort of – into Israel (U.S. ally), Turkey (U.S. ally), and Kenya (Obama’s family origin). However, most stories stopped short when it became more interesting such as the nitty-gritty details of going green or a comprehensive summary of third parties.

    Information goulash – NBC’s Obama interviews

    My week of observation started off with the discovery of an interview of Obama by Brian Williams. In the second seven minutes dated October 30, 2008 Obama talks about why Bill Clinton was better off campaigning by himself, how much the auto industry means to him, and the trickiness of appointing the right Supreme Court justice

    Unfortunately I couldn’t find an extended interview version but only a number of clips on individual topics such as “talking to Taliban”, “being a recession president”, “America’s aging infrastructure”, and “on Afghanistan, terrorism” as well as other chopped up pieces. While this might help users who are interested in only one topic it should not be too hard to also upload the whole interview in one piece. After all, this is one of the Internet’s great strengths, to give space to a long piece that tells the audience in its coherence and development, more than just the obvious. How an interview is conducted from start to finish provides additional information for the user to judge the candidate (and the media). Besides, it is tedious to pick up all the shards of sound bites in five different video sections (Latest Program, Most Viewed, Web Only, Politics, Decision ‘08) to compose a full mirror of information and impression.

    Keeping a thin blanket of issue coverage: Where They Stand

    NBC also continued with its series NBC’s Where They Stand this time concentrating on how "green" each candidate would be as president. The story gives only a brief summary still leaving the voter wondering what the candidate’s approach to some environmental issues are (e.g. geothermal and solar energy, how they will actually cut carbon emissions, how much money would go intto supporting green jobs). Both believe in the oxymoronic notion of clean coal and offshore oil drilling, which should make it hard for true green believers to decide for the lesser of two environmental evils: John McCain who wants to build 45 more nuclear power plants by 2030 or Barack Obama whose strategy toward nuclear energy we learn nothing about in NBC's visual attempt to throw some crumbs to tree huggers.

    Briefing Book Issues 08
    On the other hand NBC’s Briefing Book has filled up with more and important issues that are rather neglected in the general debate on television: comparative information on abortion, science, consumer issues, and education. A nice contribution to give voters background information, too bad some of these issues were not featured on Nightly News.

    Better aggressive than nothing

    Another rather rare third party piece showed up. However, similar to the interview with Ralph Nader, NBC’s Ron Allen interviews Libertarian presidential candidate Bob Barr rather aggressively with an attitude of doubt or criticism that I don’t see when John McCain, Barack Obama and the like are questioned.

    However, the short clip gives a wrap up of the Liberitarian Party and their presidential candidate Bob Barr. “The Liberitarian Party brings those things that the Republican Party used to stand for but no longer does.” The very conservative Barr entered Congress as a Republican in 1994 but lost his seat in 2002. According to NBC he currently polls at 2 or 3%.

    It would have been a great service to the public if NBC would have produced a third party series introducing all their presidential candidates and so showing alternative choices – they are part of U.S. political landscape, too. If NBC wants to fulfill its function to provide its audience (i.e. the public) with information to help citizens make informed decisions in a democracy, it needs to pay more attention to what's happening outside the center. After all, providing information that no one else can get is its legitimization for existence.

    The power of polls
    Despite its own reliance on polls, NBC uploaded a two minutes video of October 30, 2008 dedicated to pointing out the flaws of surveys: landlines v cell phones, honesty, and intended lying to give the other camp false security. It's a nice piece behind the scenes for people don't think about where the numbers come from.

    Proposition 8 – Same sex marriage in California
    "As hot as the presidential race" the reporter calls it. An October 30, 2008 story sums up the passionate fights for and against same sex marriage in California. If Proposition 8 as its official ballot title reads passes, it would ban same sex marriage in California. Polls are close as gay and lesbian couples rush to tie the knot before something that goes without saying for heterosexuals and was won just six months ago might become a rainbow colored fairy tale of the past – an informative piece on a state issue at the sidelines of the national election.

    Turkey for Obama -- and other exotic glimpses

    An almost two minutes story of October 31, 2008 gives a glimpse into a country featuring a strong Muslim population. As much as many in Turkey wish for Obama to become U.S. president, they all also fear the hostile U.S. approach towards Islam.

    An interesting three-minute kaleidoscope of U.S. voters in Israel dated October 30, 2008 starts off with ping-ponging between voices for Obama and McCain. Between 7.000 and 10.000 U.S. citizens are registered to vote from Israel. Many of them come from swing states such as Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida – an unusual look behind the scenes of organizing the U.S. election overseas.

    Two November 3, 2008 videos turn their attention to a continent most of the time neglected and forgotten by media but suddenly of interest because of the origin of Obama’s father: Kenya. The short clips feature the two sides of the Obama coin there: celebrating Obama in a musical as a son of the nation but also the serious consequences for his family who built a fence and are protected by guards from too much attention.

    Thou shall not listen to rumors

    This three minutes clip of October 31, 2008 speculates about rumors of Sarah Palin wanting to run for president in 2012, the McCain campaign’s tendency to paint her as scapegoat if McCain loses mixed with some of the disagreements on issues such as same-sex marriage.

    However, the clip starts off with the anchor saying that now in the final week of the campaign “you would hope that voters would be focused on nothing but the issues but it’s rumors not issues grabbing some of the headlines.”

    Hhhmmm, who is making these headlines? And who is thriving on them to catch and bind these fickle eyeballs to consume whatever the screen shows (probably also issues if they would be aired more)? Having said this, here’s a piece on some current juicy McCain/Palin gossip. But voter, please focus on the issues here, won't you!?

    Predict your own election!
    Finally, MSNBC offers a neat toy, an interactive map for the user to fill in toss-up states and see the outcome of your personal hunch.

    On its Decision '08 home page MSNBC offers more interactive tools, photos, cartoons, name it.

    This will be the last post for this blog since this media observation project stops with election day on November 4, 2008 (which as of this writing is roughly 12 hours away). Despite all the fun of sometimes checking NBC Nightly News online more often than my e-mail, no matter how the election will go, I and the country can concentrate again on some other important issues. Back to non-election mode of real life.

    Fox News Channel: The Home Stretch

    By Allison Herman

    In my opinion, this last week of election coverage has been the most exciting yet. Fox News Channel has had many different politicians on as live interviews, all talking about how they think the election will turn out. What’s great about these interviews is that nearly all of them are from very passionate people who genuinely seem like they mean and care about what they’re saying, and all are confident that they know how the election will turn out. The only problem is that they’re split about 50-50: half for McCain and half for Obama.

    It’s also interesting to see how the national media is portraying the state of Ohio. We’re a swing state that means a lot in this election, but it also seems that no one really know definitively who will get the buckeye state. About twice an hour Fox has a different story about how Ohio’s going to be the state to watch on Election Day, which is exciting and it makes me glad that I get to participate in Ohio’s election this year.

    What is also a continuing trend on Fox is the channel showing the last minute campaign stops by the presidential candidates across the country. As I said in my previous blog, I was surprised to see that they were showing the candidates speeches in their entirety. 20 minutes of a political speech isn’t the most exciting TV, especially when both of the candidates use the same speech every time. If you’ve seen it once, you’ve seen it a thousand times. But again, I guess that’s the luxury and the curse of a 24 hour news network – lots of time to fill.