Thursday, September 22, 2016

Columbus off political radar in Ohio

Christine Holmes |

Ohio may be a crucial state for presidential candidates to win, but its capital doesn't get much attention from the nominees. This season, so far, the candidates have spent most their time in the northeastern part of the state when visiting. This leaves local Columbus TV station, WCMH, in a tough spot for generating its own political content.

Logo from WCMH Twitter account
After a search of the station's website, it was obvious that it relies heavily on Associated Press wire material to inform its viewing/reading area on topics related to the 2016 election. The prominence of having a candidate within reporting proximity doesn't occur often, so the station probably focuses its efforts on other issues.

For a city with over 800,000 residents in a swing state, it's necessary to inform those eligible to vote on as much as possible.

Mirroring national media outlets, NBC4 provides minimal coverage on the third party candidates. Maybe it's irony, but the first article that appears on the station's website is about the third party candidates being excluded from the first presidential debate. That article, and all other stories, come strictly from the AP wire.

NBC4 isn't at fault for the lack of coverage, but that doesn't mean they can't be a part of the solution to change the way America covers politics. If Americans see a problem with the two-party system, which is becoming a topic of debate even more so with this particular election, then it is the job of journalists to investigate and find answers. Leaving it to a government that's comfortable with the way it functions, and will likely be resistant to change, is not wise. That's why journalists exist- to question authority and keep power in check.

When Green party candidate, Jill Stein was in Columbus for a rally at Capital University, WCMH ran a story on its website from the AP in Columbus. Even worse, the AP story referenced material from the Columbus Dispatch. The story didn't cover much of what Stein had to say, but rather it focused on her punctuality as she was late for her speech after flying to the wrong city.

The few stories about Gary Johnson also paint the candidate in a negative light. While it is important to tell the public about Johnson's perceived lack of knowledge on Aleppo and Stein's bizarre mishap in flight, it's just as important to provide more coverage so voters have whole judgement.

Many of the stories produced on NBC4's website criticize the candidates, which is a duty of journalists, but they lack in the coverage that shows the candidates doing anything positive. That's an obvious bias that needs to be addressed.

While it's instinctive for journalists to criticize, question, and keep the future of the country in line, it's also crucial to not let emotions take over. Objectivity must always come first, so when a story that appears to be a PR delight comes out, it should also be covered as equally as the PR nightmare. It's only fair to the candidates and the voters to have this kind of balance in coverage.

No comments: