Posted by: eratigan | August 5, 2009

Miscast journalists, misrepresented democracy?

Patterson argues in “The Miscast Institution” that the media is responsible (but shouldn’t be) for the directions political campaigns and debates take.

It’s an interesting thought and one I hadn’t really considered before I read the article.  Something that interested me even more was an editor’s note preceding Patterson’s argument.

The editor claims “the norms of journalism and the commerical goals of the press are at odds with the political values that should guide election campaigns in democracies.” This assertion seems to be at odds with Pincus’s article claiming journalists’ civic responsiblity.

Are the two groups not working towards the same goal? Don’t we all want democracy? The editor’s note seems more like a soapbox than an introduction for Patterson’s article, which addresses the conflicting structures of the press and the government, not their agendas.

However, these three authors combined raise another, long debated issue–is the media fulfilling its role as watchdog during the elections? Are journalists asking the right questions, spotlighting the important topics?

From the number of stories about Obama’s flag pin, McCain’s questionable relationships with lobbyists and (Hillary) Clinton’s tears, the answer is no.

The editor of Patterson’s article seems to think the parties should organize campaigns, not submit to media-run ones. But is that a better solution? Would we get more of the true candidate, or just a candidate colored within party lines?

If anyone else read the note, I’d love to hear your thoughts on it.


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