Thursday, September 1, 2016

How the Media Doesn't Cover the Election

Leander Edmiston

Tuesday, August 30, the cover of The New York Times reads, "Clinton Piles Up Research In Bid To Needle Trump." Wednesday, August 31, The Washington Post reads, "Trump's High-Risk, Low Reward Trip To Mexico Is Sort Of Baffling." Thursday, September 1, The Wall Street Journal's front page reads, "Trump Talks Tough On Wall."
Every morning for almost a year I've woken up reading another headline, speech analysis or sensational story about the same two candidates, Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump. Those stories have become a part of my morning routine, and in a strange way they have become an important part of my life. And what should I expect? It's election season, and newspapers write what's newsworthy. Meaning the Presidential candidates they most often write about are the ones most people are talking about. But wait. If newspapers mostly cover what people are talking about, and people talk most about what newspapers are writing about then how can we start a national dialogue about anything other than Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump?

Newspapers are the public's gateway to information, and they have an obligation to accurately represent the world we live in. The media and popular culture are co-dependent, after all newspapers are a business. But that dependency may jeopardize the medias fair and accurate representation of the world, and specifically the political landscape. However, journalists and politicians have understood the importance of political representation for alternative candidates for years, which is why Congress passed the Communications Act of 1934 and the equal-time rule, requiring television stations to treat qualified political candidates equally when it comes to selling or giving away air time.

Congress later amended the law so that stations who covered candidates on regularly scheduled newscasts, interviews and on-the-spot news events no longer had to had to offer equal time to other candidates running for that office. Debates for example are considered on-the-spot-news events, which means that as long as a station is hosting a debate for one party they do not need to provide an equivalent opportunity for another.

Over the next four weeks I will examine and discuss the ways the media covers third-party presidential candidates, and compare the ways major media and independent news media cover the third-parties. I will study the history of alternative parties in the United States and the position they have in America today. I will ask questions like "does the media cover the alternative parties proportionate to their popularity with voters," and  "does the media have an ethical obligation to cover the entire spectrum of candidates?"

Chicago Monitor - Three’s a crowd: How the media ignored third party candidates

More Information About the Communications Act of 1934 by Cornell university Law School

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