As we race toward the 2012 elections, there is no shortage of news coverage for the presidential candidates. Each day, national newscasts feature at least one juicy “he said, she said” story from the campaign trail, focusing on the endless train of non-Romney alternatives.
With the GOP race heating up, “Mean Newt” has more than one appearance on the nightly news, Ron Paul has completed a few more aloof interviews, and who can resist writing a commentary about Rick Santorum’s endless supply of sweater vests?
With the inception of 24-hour news, it has been often argued that a competitive ratings game has ensued to captivate audiences. The overall quality of news coverage has gone down, and it seems the coverage of the 2012 campaign is an excellent example of this.
While I agree that constant access to news has replaced quality with sensationalism, the more important issue to me is not the manner in which we cover the news, but the way in which we determine what the news actually is.
For example, with the 2012 campaign dominating the airwaves, I find myself an expert on the Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina results (thanks to CNN) and little else. Aside from my occasional C-SPAN marathon, to find quality news on television is quite difficult.
As I watch CNN, I find myself questioning more and more why we are not offended by their tagline “The Worldwide Leader in News.” Producers parade analyst after analyst on screen to refute, rebut and retell what their counterpart said before them. CNN is not the only culprit of this trend; often competing networks mimic a similar format.
To me, the news is not someone’s tips to making the most of the housing market or postulating why Rick Perry is still in the GOP race for the White House.
Such extensive and excessive amounts of commentary do not belong under the guise of a news broadcast.
I find myself garnering my news from countless online news sources almost exclusively, completely giving up on televised news sources.
I am constantly taken aback by the countless reports of death, poverty, violence and turmoil from around the globe that merit only a one liner on American news broadcasts at best.
Are not the violence in Southern Sudan, streets of protesters in Romania or the ongoing famine in Somalia not worthy of our attention for more than a sound bite?
I don’t contend that current events, such as the 2012 election, are not news but cannot justify the amount of commentary and analysis that is devoted to an event that is in my mind slightly less important than people dying around the world.
It is not that we report the wrong things on our news, it is the passive acceptance of importance and relevance placed on contextually trivial events.