Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Media Coverage of Candidates and Politicianshttp

In the chapter, Media Coverage of Candidates and Politicians: An Introduction, in the book titled Media & Minorities, The Politics of Race in News and Entertainment written by Stephanie Greco Larson, the author discusses how candidates and politicians are represented in media. The author writes that candidates and politicians accuse the media of falsely representing their messages in a way that “hinder their (the politicians and candidates) ability to communicate with the people” (195). However, the press claims that “politicians and candidates manipulate and use them for ends inconsistent with the purpose of a free and open press” (195). It seems to me, and I believe Larson would agree with me that neither the politicians nor the press can be ‘successful’ without the other.

The author continues to write about how media covers politicians and their campaigns. Larson writes on page 196, “Media coverage of campaigns focuses on style over substance, strategy over ideals and people over processes…Candidates and politicians become characters in a giant political play or sitcom.” With the recent election and media coverage of campaigning from Obama and McCain, it is obvious that the media does portray candidates and politicians as dramatic characters in a play. I feel as if the candidates switch characters many times, one as the protagonist and the other as the antagonist and so on.

The author continues to write about the amount and type of coverage a candidate might receive from the media. I found it particularly interesting when Larson wrote on page 197, “Those (candidates) who are authentically outsiders receive less and worse coverage than insiders. Sometimes candidates who are not ideologically extreme and who have political experience, resources, and connections that make them insiders successfully campaign as “outsiders.”…the media find outsider rhetoric appealing as long as those using it are not really outsiders.”

Media coverage of Candidates is extremely important because it brings candidates popularity, or unpopularity among the public who controls the candidate’s probability of being elected or re-elected. The author writes that even sometimes simple name recognition within the public eye is important enough. Larson writes on page 198, “…party identification is no longer as important…people want to know more than the party label before they vote for a candidate. Sometimes just recognizing a candidate’s name is enough.” Media can also “influence or destroy” the popularity of a candidate with the “coverage’s tone and treatment” (198). Larson uses the example of the agenda setting role. She writes that “agenda setting tells voters “not what to think, but what to think about”” (199). Larson writes that “if one candidate’s issue agenda is ignored, and another’s gets extensive coverage, then the media’s agenda-setting role will help the first candidate” (199). I’m not completely sure that I agree with that statement. I feel the more I know about one candidate, the more I may agree with that candidate. If I know little about another candidate, and am too lazy to research myself, I may vote for the candidate that receives more coverage because the media made it convenient for me to understand that particular candidate.

In all, this chapter was basically an introduction about media coverage on politicians and candidates. Although coverage of candidates and politicians is not always accurate or truthful to the politics, those who are receiving coverage from the media need that coverage in order to gain popularity within the public and have a chance at winning an election. Media also can not survive without politics. They need the stories and the slander, the excitement in order to create interesting coverage for the public eye.

I chose this media representation because it shows how the press can been seen as ‘biased’. In this clip, the press is criticized for giving Barack Obama a ‘free ride’ in terms of press coverage. The press is accused of creating a more positive image for Obama than Hillary, President Bush, and other candidates. I feel as if this clip is extremely self-explanatory and is interesting in terms of describing how the press works and how the press can even be criticized by other news sources.

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