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How Reliable Is Media Coverage When It Comes To Politics?

As we get closer to the elections in November, expect more campaign commercials and media coverage to bombard the airwaves. How reliable will that coverage be?


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The role of the media in politics has evolved over time. For example, CBS television news anchor Walter Cronkite set the standard of respect for unbiased journalists as one of the most prominent figures in the country.

Matt Bruce is a nationally syndicated talk show host based in Florida and radio voice of the Tea Party. He says when it comes to candidates and the election, he doesn’t think the media is neutral or fair.

“You can start with ABC and hear one story described one way, go over to CBS, hear the same story described in a totally different way.”

Hernandez: “Why do you think that is?”

Bruce: “I think that they have an agenda, and it’s always based on the almighty dollar, I hate to tell you that.”

Although he has a distinct political slant, he says in order to remain credible media outlets cannot take sides.

Jonathan Ladd, a Georgetown University professor is author of the book Why Americans Hate the Media and How It Matters. He says good or bad, the media’s place in society has changed.

“More partisan news sources have incentive to criticize conventional news organizations, and try to reduce trust in them, so that people would rely more on partisan sources. Some of my experiments to see what effect the people’s trust in the press found that when people were reminded of tabloid reportings, reporting on sensationalist news, doesn’t make people trust the press for information as much, they trust it less.”

It’s estimated that some $2 billion in political advertising will be spent during the presidential campaigns leading up to the November election.

Dr. Beth Olson directs the Jack Valenti School of Communication at UH. She says while the media landscape has forever changed with more outlets like cable, the internet and blogs.

“Who is enforcing editorial control over the blog postings? No one’s fact checking it so again, I think that lends to a lesser degree of credibility for those people that write.”

Hernandez: “Is press criticism an effective strategy for political campaigns in appealing to the public’s dislike of the press?”

Olson: “Oh, you would think it would be, yes.”

Hernandez: “What do you tell your students who want to be the next Walter Cronkite or Christiane Amanpour?”

Olson: “I say you can have an opinion, but I shouldn’t know it by reading your story.”

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