Saturday, January 27, 2007

Media Obsession

I was alarmed today when I checked my internet news sites to read about "tens of thousands" in D.C. protesting the war. I love how we can have peaceful protests in our country without blood being shed, but this march looks more like star gazing than protesting. When I turned on CNN I expected full coverage, but the story was brief, and the crowd does not look like "tens of thousands," as the AP article I read described. It seemed like a thousand people were there to listen to pompous celebraties give their views on Bush. I think this is pretty amusing, and my first thought was how these actors desperately want to relive the days of 1969. My second thought was on one of my favorite movies: Team America. I hope you enjoy this video as much as I do.

The second link is what I would like to reflect on today, and the two topics are related. Senator Obama. Or should I say Rock Star Obama. This junior senator has been ALL over the news, and not only since his announcement to form an exploratory committee; he's been the media darling since his speech at the democratic national convention in 2004. Obama has been on magazine covers, newspapers' front pages, cable shows, network shows, internet sites, Oprah's couch, Northwestern News Network - you name it, he's been there.

I remember when this Obama hysteria started to get to me. I was, up until December, a subscriber to Time magazine. Before the November election it was cover after cover of bashing republicans. But there was one issue inbetween the cover of the Elephant's behind and the cover with the picture of the tattered cowboy hat, that didn't focus on the immanent defeat of the GOP; it was an issue graced with a cover of a very cute Senator Obama. The article entailed the reasoning behind how he could become our first black president. The arguments weren't compelling.

The article I linked lists all of the praise the senator has gotten within the past year. With all of these accolades, how can he not run for president? He seems modest, but I believe he has to have an ego that convinces him of political invicibility. He probably has supporters in the demoratic congress because there aren't many within the party, as of now, that are electable. Senator Obama is electable. Perhaps more so than Hillary.

But is he prepared to be our president? He seems like a good guy. No doubt he's charismatic, good looking, well-spoken and intelligent. But other than these qualities, what has he done to deserve this publicity? And furthermore, what has he done to deserve being the leader of the free world? He tried passing legislation with Senator McCain and then backed out because it was controversial. He also hasn't been straight with what he thinks is a solution in Iraq. Not that he has any expertise with this topic.

It seems he says things that are politically safe. For instance, on his web site he menitoned "a new kind of politics." What does this mean? It's political jargon that sounds good but it's not substantive. This is not a sign of leadership. As a leader you will have those that support your ideas, and those that oppose them. You can't please everyone. Just ask Bush, he has 70 percent of the country opposing him.

But Obama certainly pleases the press. Obama is just another case of our media's obsession with celebraties. But I do have a friend who loves the young senator. She's from Illinois and worked on his senate campaign. She has told me,"you have to listen to his ideas! He will change things!"

Well, I'm listening, Obama.



At Saturday, January 27, 2007, Anonymous TD said...

JK, I found myself shaking my head in agreement with this post. Obama is definitely charismatic, articulate and super-intelligent but I feel that most people don't know where he stands on many of the issues. They're really enamored by the idea of change (the mentality that anything is better than what we have now...which is probably true but that's a different post..) and Oprah's endorsement (which is practically the midas touch!)Americans bottom line need to be more politically informed. I've heard so many times, "Oh, I don't care, politics is boring." It's not boring when your life and the future of your country is at stake. I'm definitely listening to what Obama has to say as well and I hope everyone else is too!

At Saturday, January 27, 2007, Blogger Medill Media Watch said...

I am just finishing up Obama's amazing read...that speaks to a little to JK's concern. I think Obama has embraced his lack of experience and he, in fact, highlights it throughout his book. He shares tons and tons of ideas--some more detailed than others...on everything from a better use of govenrment resources, to Iraq, to education, to race relations, to his personal history and relationships.

I don't know who I will vote for in '08 but I think that each candidate on the ballot deserves to be researched. If I am to take full advantage of my right and privilege to vote, I'm giving face time to everyone--not just Clinton or Obama.

There is a danger, however in waiting for information to come to you. Candidates court your vote, and just as much as blind dates are dangerous so is blind voting. You wouldn't court anyone, at least not comfortably without doing a little bit of homework on the real scoop.

Without taking time to personally investigate the candidate to see how they've voted or what they've written... without calling the representatives who get paid to answer your questions or visiting websites instead of watching the sites broadcast on local/national news...without actually attending sessions wherein candidates are present so that you might get your answers instead of waiting for* will continue to feed into an uninformed, inactive, and lazy society and you could become victim to media spin and to hidden agendas that will present and persuade you to see Obama in the varying ways NYTIMES, Ebony, NBC or the Tribune wants you to see him. And, in turn, you will vote for or against Obama or any other candidate based on what you've heard and not what you've researched and found for yourself to be true and to be in line or or out of line with your own values.

I will agree that Obama could do better in live interviews--could be a bit more concise and not just compelling when he is in front of the camera but we have to keep in mind that reporting cannot capture it all--and especially in his case--won't capture it all. We get sots, we write vo, we cut video, and ingest and provide bits and pieces of the full story--feeding into a mystery that wouldn't be a mystery at all if the camera stayed on a little longer or if broadcasters looked into what's already public information--his voting record, his books, etc.-- to know where he really stands on many issues.


* my comments do not intend to suggest that JK or TD are uninformed or lazy....they're in chicago broadcast. (pause) They are anything but uninformed or lazy:)

My comments aim to compel any and all readers not to wait around for us or any other media entity to give you everything you need to hear to better understand where candidates stand on issues. The media should never be the sole source of information when developing an idea for who will/won't earn your vote. Be your own informant..your own eyes and ears are always your best and most trusted resource.

At Sunday, January 28, 2007, Blogger Medill Media Watch said...

That's true, ER. I should pick up his book. But I'm so busy reading Harry Potter, I'm not sure there will be enough time! :)

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