Here’s how the political media can do better in 2016.
Another year has come and gone, and like everyone else our political media was far from perfect in 2015. This isn’t anyone’s fault, after all journalists are only human. But there’s still a lot the political media could do better, so instead of focusing on their waist lines or personal habits, here are my suggestions of how journalists could do a better job in 2015.
(1) Put risks in perspectives: The recent terrorist attacks in Paris and California have obviously put the American public on edge. And this makes sense; terrorism is a very real problem in the world. But at the same time the number of Americans killed in terrorist attacks every year remains staggeringly low. As Andrew Shaver pointed out back in November you are more likely to be killed by furniture than terrorism. So while our news media should continue to cover terrorism, it would be helpful to put these risks in perspective. The media often hysterical coverage of Ebola wasn’t exactly helpful after all.
(2) Cover local elected officials, because they matter too: One thing that’s pretty obvious from coverage of the aftermath of a number of police shooting that happened this year is that local elected officials are really important in our political system. After all if Cuyahoga County had a different prosecutor the whole process and outcomes of the Tamir Rice case could have been very different. The White House and Capitol Hill is where to go if you want a fast track career in the media, but things that happen at the local level can be just as important (if not more so) to many people.
(3) Less Trump Please: Sure I get why journalists love to cover Donald Trump; he’s a larger than life personality who never fails to make news, even if that only comes in the form of saying offensive things. Plus he’s riding high in the polls as of right now. But the evidence is pretty clear that the Donald’s rise and high poll numbers are being caused by the fact that the media is obsessively covering him while ignoring the other candidates. Maybe it’s time to cover something else?
(4) Just admit it, Hillary Clinton is popular: You may like of dislike Hillary’s politics and personality, but it’s obvious that she is popular, indeed she’s the most admired woman in the world. Unfortunately most journalists stubbornly refuse to admit this fact for reasons Matt Yglesias summed up this summer:
…among journalists, Clinton is one of the least popular politicians. She is not forthcoming or entertaining with the press. She doesn’t offer good quotes. She doesn’t like journalists, respect what we do, or care to hide her disdain for the media. She feels that the right-wing press has tried to destroy her for decades, that the mainstream press got played like a cheap fiddle by the conservative press, and that even the liberal press was overwhelmingly hostile to her during her 2008 campaign.
But just because she doesn’t get along with the press doesn’t means she’s a bad politician or won’t become president. And since the public largely agrees with Clinton when it comes to trusting the media it’s probably time for the political media to change how they cover her.
(5) Cover those endorsements: The social science is clear when it comes to who wins presidential nominations under our current system, early polling just isn’t very predictive, while endorsements from other elected officials are. All of this means that the GOP race is still very much up in the air, and Trump is being totally rejected by the party he wants to lead. Journalists could help out everyone by looking for those endorsements between now and the Iowa Caucuses, instead of focusing on all Trump all the time.
Like The Good Men Project On Facebook
Photo by Ernst Moeksis/Flickr