Friday, April 27, 2007

The Politics of Politics

One of the topics that appeared throughout the week on television news sites was the first Democratic political debate, hosted by MSNBC. I came across a range of criticisms, from the ridiculously early timing to the overblown full-day coverage. I've been thinking about these objections and my own distaste for gimmicks, but--the more I thought about it--the more I found I had very little to complain about.

I think it's commendable that a news station would make a point of devoting 24 hours to discussing politics, whether a marketing ploy or not. The promotion of informed political activity/discussion is one of the key foundations of journalism, and I think too often there is too little time devoted to really covering the issues and the people that represent us and make decisions on our behalf. In some ways, it's never too early or too excessive to spend a full day talking politics.

What I think people are criticizing though, and understandably so, is just how much of a charade it's all become. Sure, politics may always have the air of the theatrical, but news coverage doesn't have to be like that. It's almost as though the stations themselves are buying into the "rock star" politics and promoting the station's image in much the same way a candidate would.

I do think that MSNBC has some fantastic political minds that know the issues inside and out, but I also think they let the conversation get stale more often than they should. They regurgitate the same fluffy headlines about Clinton and Obama, blowing insignificant details out of proportion and disregarding important issues because they take too long and too much "inside baseball" to explain.

But I suppose, in the end, I think something--however gimmicky--is better than nothing. If it gets people thinking about politics for a day, or if it simply makes a statement about what a news station thinks it should commit its resources to, then I think that's an effort worth getting behind.


At Saturday, April 28, 2007, Blogger AJS said...

As I posted to Mr. ?, I think this is a great idea. Give people unfiltered information and let them decide (it's far more honest than Fox's "We report. You decide." BS). Yeah, it can get stale, but I commend MSNBC for taking the bold step of just doing wall-to-wall coverage on what is not necessarily the most gripping issue. And, as the ratings show, it paid off. Now maybe the other networks will catch on and give us more substance and less crap.

At Monday, April 30, 2007, Blogger GN said...

I don't think it's too early to cover the campaign, given that it's in full swing whether the media covers it or not. In that sense, MSNBC did just the right thing. The way to avoid regurgitating information and letting the news go stale is not to hold off on covering it, but to think of new ways to talk about it. That's the challenge.


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