Politics and journalism

25 Aug

I’m interested in politics and journalism and the intersection of the two institutions. I think politicians and journalists use each other for their own ends, but those ends are not necessarily malevolent. In the process of their interactions, the two institutions actually do serve the democratic system.

However, things can easily go awry. Sometimes the two institutions are so focused on influencing each other that they lose sight of their real purpose in life and begin to push democracy in ways that are not beneficial.

For one thing, the way the media cover politics and campaigns has become the template for the way they often cover governing — as if the process of governing were entirely a contest between two parties or two branches of government, as if it were always a zero sum game and with little attention to the impact of the resulting policies on the polity as a whole.

And the coverage of campaigns itself is too often ridiculous. Journalists who follow the candidates get tired of hearing the same speech day after day and, thus, pick out the one tiny thing that may be different in a candidate’s speech or routine and focus their news stories on that thing. In the process, the public gets a skewed view of what’s important in the bigger picture and the candidates get stereotyped on the basis of one or two relatively insignificant things they may do. Something needs to change.

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