2016 Coverage Should Focus on the Issues

Monday, 28 Jul 2014 08:59 AM

By Jon Friedman

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We are experiencing the calm before the storm in 2016.

It's fascinating to probe the likely candidates to win the nomination to succeed President Barack Obama.

It's equally intriguing to imagine what hot-button issues will dominate the news headlines by then. Perhaps something we fret about daily now won't even be a major factor at that point.

Perhaps something we haven't even considered will likewise be front and center on everyone's minds, all the time, 24/7.

But what will happen if one of the presidential candidates unloads some straight talk on one of the debate moderators about immigration or the economy or Vladimir Putin or Iraq or terrorism.

Can the media handle the truth?

In past election cycles, we have seen journalists cover the candidates as if they were movie or pop stars. The actual down-and-dirty issues have not received the same kind of in-depth coverage that we had in the days before these 24/7 news cycles on television and radio.

The public by now seems to expect to have journalists treat them like children — or fools. Perhaps this is why CBS News is trying harder to cover serious news in a serious way — and cable contenders such as al-Jazeera, Bloomberg, the BBC, and others have chosen to make serious news for serious audiences their credo. They believe that the American people are ready to hear the news, straight and unfiltered.

It's a scary world, partly because media outlets, desperate to achieve ever-higher television ratings or online page views or newspaper/magazine circulation figures, will twist or bend or exaggerate the severity of a news event. Or else they have no compunction about the scaring the heck out of all of us with calls of stock market crashes to come or immigration warfare at the borders or World War III.

But this, too, often amounts to noise, nothing more. Which media agency will take the initiative in the coming 2 1/2 years to tell the American voters the truth and not treat a candidate like a rock star? It's more crucial to let us know what a candidate will do in office than anything about fashion or use of social media or ability to deliver rousing speeches. This is adult stuff.

It's not really a question of whether the voters can take it. They can. The real question is, Can the media handle the truth?

Jon Friedman writes the Media Matrix blog for Indiewire.com. He is also the author of "Forget About Today: Bob Dylan's Genius for (Re)Invention, Shunning the Naysayers, and Creating a Personal Revolution." Read more reports from Jon Friedman — Click Here Now.
 

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