Monday, February 05, 2007

NYT Article on John Edwards Shows Problem & Potential of Media

The New York Times ran an article about John Edwards in the Monday edition that shows both the problem with the media and also its potential. The article focused on several changes it claims that Edwards has undergone in the last two years or so. It does a very good job of explaining Edwards' positions, but then frames all of his policy proposals as changes he has made to get the nomination. The author of the article, John Broder, frames Edwards' positions as positions he is taking to get the nomination and not as heart-felt policy proposals.

This is typical of the news media. They no longer care about policy, to them everything is politics. That's one reason why they loved Karl Rove for so long because. like them, Rove doesn't care about policy, he just cares about politics. Most news media pundits look at political campaigns from a campaign viewpoint while voters look at political campaigns from a governing viewpoint. They want to know what the candidates will do if they are elected, not how they are going to get elected.

That is one thing that the Internet is doing for politicians. It used to be that the only way they had to get their message out without using paid advertising was to depend on the news media to report what they were saying and doing. Now, however, with the advent of tools like You Tube, blogs, and websites they can communicate with millions of people directly, without going through the media. This is one reason why the media resents the rise of blogs and similar Internet tools. They instinctively recognize that such communication tools transfers power from them to the candidates and to the voters. If candidates chose to do so, they can let us know exactly where they stand on various issues without going through the media.

The Internet is also influencing what stories get covered. A good example of this was the media controversy that broke out with former Senator George Allen and his macaca comments. That story wasn't driven by the media, because they didn't report it until the Webb campaign posted the video on You Tube. Once posted it garnered a lot of attention which then led to the mainstream media reporting on the incident. Instead of the media deciding what was a news story, Internet users were deciding what was a news story. That is a very significant power shift in mass communications.

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