Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Media Coverage and the Effect on Political Campaigns

By: Katie King

The media has come to an obstacle in the road for this year's political campaign: How to cover Republican candidate Donald Trump.  For media coverage in the past, the repeated trend that seems to kill the chance of candidates is the negative facts that the media bring to the public's attention to during the campaign.  In the case of Trump, the public show little interest.

The public is quick to turn to the fast checkers to see what is accurate and what is not.  In the 2012 election, according an article in NPR, Republican candidates were checked more than Democrats.  I believe that this is an effect on how the media covered the election.  Romney was said to be speaking out more and making more factual claims than Obama.  More things to say lead to more to be talked about and quoted in the media.  The ending of the election proved that the fact checkers had caught more mistakes from Romney than his competitor, Obama.  The more media coverage brought out more negative than positives aspects.  The difference, that I see in Trump's case, is that the more media coverage is helping his chances.

What started out as almost a joke to most, the Trump campaign is increasing in attention and attracting followers.  When the news broke out that he was going to be a candidate, the media obviously was going to cover it because it was out of the ordinary and came as a complete surprise to most.  Trump "satisfies the media's and the public's shared craving for celebrity, novelty, and clarity," according to David Uberti in the Columbia Journalism Review.  The public first watched just for entertainment but have now found themselves agreeing on what Trump has to say, giving him and his campaign a huge boost in the polls.

 Screen Shot 2015-09-22 at 12.12.36 PM.pngImage by: John Slides

An issue that now appears is how should the media continue to cover Trump?  A problem that has been present before is political journalists predetermining facts about political candidates before anything has been decided.  What the media has to say has a huge impact on what the public has access to see, often times dictating what they think as well.  With the media showing an excess of coverage on Trump, he is given more of the public's time to share what he has to say.  Uberti states "he went from being completely unpopular with Republicans to being popular with them in two months." 

The satisfaction of Republican voters with the candidates running for the Republican nomination is higher than that of Democratic voters.  According to the Pew Research Center, 59% of Republican voters say the candidates are good compared to 45% of Democratic voters.  This could be a direct effect of media coverage.

Along with that, the issues that the candidates choose to talk about have an effect.  The 2016 campaign has shown that Republicans and Democrats have complete different perspectives on what they favor as important interests.  This puts extra attention to what candidates personally choose to talk about in their debates because they want to make sure to attract the majority of voters.  They do not always get the chance to say everything they need to or address all the issues that they are presented with, since media coverage is limited, unless your Donald Trump, and everything you say about politics seems to turn heads.

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