Thursday, March 6, 2008

Why Not the Best?

The news media covers elections as either sportscasters or drama critics. They either fixate on the “race” - even overusing sports analogies or they focus on the performance art of speeches, rallies, photo ops, and debates. No one is asking the most fundamental question – what will the government, the country, and the world be like after four years of Clinton, Obama, or McCain?

Hillary Clinton’s reversal of fortunes on March 4 was “manna from heaven” for the news media. Instead of spending five months before the national conventions discussing issues and what the candidates really stand for, they can continue in sportscaster and drama critic mode.

The media also knows that this ultimate reality show competition has provided them with record viewership. In many cases the talking heads are reaching audiences ten times the size of those watching regular, non-campaign, cable news. They don’t want the ride to end.

These news outlets and talking heads face the challenge that in-depth analysis of issues and candidate stances can be boring stuff. In an era of 15-second sound bites and Youtube moments audiences will be channel surfing before the media finished their introductions. The media has a responsibility to find ways to bridge this entertainment expectation gap in order to give us something meaningful. Unfortunately, the media is simply going with the flow – much to the detriment of our nation’s future.

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