Media and politics have been intertwined for as long as they’ve both existed, but it seems like neither group really knows what they’re doing just yet. Perhaps I’m paying more attention now as a voter and a journalism student, or maybe I’ve been watching too much Jon Stewart, but it seems like both have a lot to learn.
For example, the two recently announced Republican presidential candidates have already made media blunders, both within the first week of their respective announcements. Unbeknownst to many, Ted Cruz and his digital team didn’t have the foresight to buy his domain name, meaning tedcruz.com looks like this. On the first day of Rand Paul’s campaign, the presidential candidate mishandled several interviews, drawing plenty of negative media attention. I’m not saying this to promote any liberal agenda, I’m sure once the Democratic candidates are announced, they’ll embarrass themselves in the media as well. Hillary Clinton hasn’t even announced her candidacy and she’s under fire for not only having a secret email account, but for deleting emails from it, a potentially huge public relations mistake.
When it comes to political reporting, the news media is not perfect either. Political campaigns give the media an opportunity to fulfill their role as a public informant, both providing unbiased information as well as acting as a watchdog that scrutinizes both candidates and parties. Instead, news media often spend inordinate amounts of time analyzing issues like Obama’s birth certificate that are not only ridiculous accusations, but inform the public about the wrong sorts of issues. In my opinion, this is worse than political candidates making media mistakes because the news media provide information that ultimately helps to form voter decisions.
In terms of finding solutions to these problems, my first thought is that political candidates need better marketing teams. More importantly, the news media itself has some reforming to do. I don’t trust the American public enough to seek out a variety of sources and opinions to become truly informed voters, so maybe the media should be doing this. Alternatives to Fox News and MSNBC must exist to give voters an unbiased and not-so-personalized view of political issues if we want the most informed decisions to be made.