The Media and Campaign 2008

Now you ask what role the media should play [Editor’s Note: “No Honeymoon for Obama” November 17-24]?


Now you ask what role the media should play [Editor's Note: No Honeymoon for Obama," November 17-24]? Didn't anyone teach you the difference between news and opinion in journalism school? Never in my life have I witnessed such reckless abandonment of any semblance of newsroom objectivity during an election campaign. The media advocated relentlessly for their man. National Public Radio was fairly giddy on election night. Well, you elected him. Let's just hope you know what you were doing.

Susan Stephens via E-mail

I love your question. A hyperactive and varied media has generated the most energized electorate ever. No overload. Those who wish have remained blissfully unaware without exerting themselves. And don't worry about making adjustments for the Obama administration. The candidate was able to brilliantly utilize all media at his disposal, and his support team is already at work taking it to the next level. So go ahead, Brian; investigate, analyze, and report at full volume. History will take care of the rest.

Comment by Mary Margaret of ID

To respond to your question "Are we damaging our democracy with information overload?" I offer a quick analogy: Have we benefited from having the ability to look at our 401(k) plans on a daily basis, versus just looking at the old, mailed quarterly or annual reports? Instant information access has resulted in a compression of time, has weakened our ability to look at things from a long-term viewpoint, and is driving our desire for instant gratification. This could prove to be a very debilitating trait.

Cris K. Conner, St. Louis

I thought your editor's note was pertinent and to the point. Obama is going to need all the help he can get from Congress, business, the people, and, of course, the media. All I can suggest is that the media be honest and deal only with the facts. Honest scrutiny will, of course, be encouraged, but let's not pound unnecessarily on a new president who has so much turmoil to deal with at the very outset of his administration. Let's be sympathetic and try to give him the benefit of the doubt whenever possible.

Allan H. Po e via E-mail

As a Chicagoan who attended the Grant Park rally on election night even though I didn't vote for Obama, I wish for one thing in these months leading up to the inauguration and in the traditional 100-day "honeymoon" period after: balance. The role the media should always play is to present the truth while reporting and balance in its analysis and commentary. The American public should do its part as well; that is, to look at each situation with clear eyes and through many different prisms. It would also help if the public would stop allowing people with blatant agendas to do their thinking for them. "Consider the source" should be the first thing in someone's mind when hearing or reading any commentary. The insurmountable odds that Obama faces are not a looming depression but the dumbing down of the national discussion on what to do about it. Regardless of what the media can or will do, it's the American people who have to start taking a long, hard look in the mirror and asking some cold-eyed questions.

John M . McCarthy, Berwyn , Ill.

This past election saw too many so-called journalists weighing in heavily in favor of Obama in the primaries and general election. They said nothing or very little negative about Obama and very little good about McCain and certainly very little good about Palin. The media are damaging their image for those who want to see balanced stories. We need all of the information so we can draw our own conclusions.

Joyce Maurer, Reading , Pa.

I think we are just a better-informed nation that has to "figure out what to do" with all the excesses! We are a nation of fickle people! Party lines have become so blurred in recent years. The only exception may be the religious contingency who side with the Republicans because of the moral issues . . . right to life and heterosexual marriage. There doesn't seem to be a consistent platform for Republican or Democrat, and the independent party just doesn't seem to be able to get off the ground. Obama preached "change," and the world believed him. But as you said, there's only so much change any one person can actually make. The expectations are way too high, and I don't see how he can keep his popularity with the people who will feel he's failed them . . . even if it isn't his fault! I'm praying for him and also for all the nation's leaders, right down to local government. I frankly don't understand why anyone in their right mind would want to be a politician! I saw a political cartoon that said if you've forgotten some of your earlier years, just run for a political office. The media will tell you all that you'd long since forgotten.

Donna Conrad, Idaho

The media have damaged our society by taking their attention away from the here and now and placing their spotlight instead on pursuing guesswork games of speculation and prediction: For the past two years, the media have been rampantly following the primary and presidential campaign candidates. Perhaps if the media focused more on the current presidency, then maybe we would have observed a more responsible president than we've had. For all practical purposes, President Bush seems to have been "missing in action" as our economy and financial institutions have faltered and crumbled. The media has the ability to hold one's feet to the fire, but how can that happen if it's absorbed instead in "What's going to happen next?" And now, it's sickening to see the media doing it all over again. Barack Obama hasn't even taken office and the media are hellbent on speculating on the 2012 election as well as researching what Sarah Palin is doing now—is she going to run for Senate or for president in 2012?

Gordon D. Sokoloff, Coral Gables, Fla.

I fear that if the media do not slow down, the Obama presidency will be very negatively affected. It is my hope that the media can return to the basics, bringing the facts forward, and keep the bias at bay. As a registered nurse of 30 years, I have had to learn that it is not my place to be judgmental. My job is to be of service, meeting individual patients where they are at this given moment. Being of service to the public is a high calling, and the art of journalism is out there just waiting to be reclaimed.

Nancy A. Hartnett, Dixon, Neb.

There is a difference between being better informed and being overloaded with opinionated commentary. There is also a difference between objective, informative reporting and skewed, opinionated blathering. The press seems to have lost its compass regarding the difference between freedom and license. Journalism schools need to teach real ethics and give all their students a good injection of good judgment and judicious thinking. I enjoyed reading the previous comments on this issue and the opportunity to comment as well. U.S. News is the most tempered of all the major newsmagazines, and your willingness to have readers comment on editorial issues creates a valid dialogue.

Comment by Davina Rubin of CA

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