Monday, October 16, 2006

Get it right, politicians...

It's hard to escape the fact that we're in the middle of election season. It's the time of year when every television commercial seems to end with "I'm [insert name here] and I sponsored this ad because I belive in America." Or something to that effect.

In these unavoidable ads, many candidates like to use "quotes" from newspaper articles that attest to their own brilliance and their opponent's inherent stupidity or evil.

The problem with this kind of quote-lifting, however, is that most politicians are not journalists. And apparently, they don't pay attention to detail in the same way that we do.

At least one major newspaper--The Chicago Tribune--is fed up. In an editorial published on October 16 (click here to read it), Tribune editors point out misrepresented quotes used in the campaigns of Illinois Govenor Rod Gov. Rod Blagojevich and state Sen. Peter Roskam, who is running for a 6th District seat in Congress. Apparently, both camps used quotes that the Tribune had used as quotes--without citing them as such.

"If you choose to quote us," writes the Tribune, "please take care to relate what we said, not what you wish we'd said. Get it right--or leave us out of it."

So what should be the standard for candidate's use and misuse of the media? Clearly, candidates should take the time to get the quote right, because like journalists, they are dependent on their own credibility. Do people take the time to check these quotes? Does it matter in the larger outcome of the election?


At Tuesday, October 17, 2006, Blogger Medill Media Watch said...

I was about to get on the train at the Belmont stop when someone handed me a colorful flier containing the differences between Stroger and Peraica according to news quotes. Stroger's men were passing them out and he was there in smiling person as well.

I thought it was interesting to read the quotes and it definitely caught my attention. If the Tribune is saying this or that about certain candidates, then it must be somewhat true, no?

Apparently not. As their editorial said, political campaigns are misusing their quotes and there is really no excuse to make that right. I think journalists should diligently make sure that political campaigns are not taking their words out of context. In fact, should media companies endorse candidates at all?


At Tuesday, October 17, 2006, Blogger Medill Media Watch said...

I think these quotes play a huge role in the elections. People assume legitimacy when they read a quote from a reputable paper such as the Chicago Tribune. People cannot distinguish fact from fiction in most of these cases.

How can journalists protect their quotes though? They don't always see every campaign ad. But, I agree, it is a huge problem.



Post a Comment

<< Home