The 2016 Campaign Coverage Mess…

Politico’s Jack Shafer scores a home run today writing about how screwed up campaign journalism has become in 2016…

But in campaign 2016 these disinformation efforts have become rampant, and they are gaining currency as never before thanks to the pick-up they’re getting from traditional media. Traditional media once shied from repeating stories they hadn’t confirmed, or that hadn’t been confirmed by their peers. But as so much of cable television has devolved from news to discussion about what people read in the news, that’s changed. It’s not that the old news gatekeepers aren’t doing their jobs. Most are. It’s just that the fences have been breached.

I was going to quote Shafer citing an example but they’re all so good that instead I’ll just say read the dang article…

As 2016 shapes up to be the disinformation campaign, there may be no easy and elegant way to stem the flow of fallacious TV stories, Web pieces, Trump speeches and Twitter blasts in these digital times. The dirty tricks of disinformation have always been part of politics and won’t be banished by decree. Nor will calls for a news quarantine of suspected disinformation work. Besides, news quarantines are antithetical to journalism. Good journalists have traditionally combated disinformation with real information, always knowing that in taking down the phony you run the risk of inadvertently giving it a boost. It’s a paradox we must live with, because the alternative of just letting candidate and information outlets to do their thing unchallenged is much worse.


One Response to “The 2016 Campaign Coverage Mess…”

  1. But the political disinformation storm can be intercepted only if readers are determined enough to double check the crap produced online, repeated on TV or propelled out of Trump’s mouth. […]Obviously the fact-checker must soldier on. But the real weak point is cable TV news, which either allows the false stories to be repeated or allows Trump to spew without correcting him in real time.
    It’s down to trust. Soldiering on won’t do anything. The years of unflattering coverage of people on a particular side on the abortion issue, marriage, immigration, and etc. by many journalists considered objective has led to a lot of and reinforced over and over again resentment and distrust. Misrepresenting and people’s views and reasons for supporting a position, overgeneralizing, and ridiculing them has consequences.
    E.g. If I recall correctly, a few years ago I saw some cable news guest portray Southerners as stupid because they receive the most subsidies per capital but vote GOP who want to cut them and went unchallenged by the host. What they overlook is the fact that many who are jobless don’t want more welfare but jobs, something that gives them something to do. These ‘experts’ are so into their own ideology of more ‘free’ money the better they are completely detached from the reality these ordinary people live and what they actually want.
    The reason why Fox, Brietbart, and some talk radio hosts have such loyal audiences is because they respectfully treat these alienated people as people and unfortunately they also exploit the resentment and bring the worse out of people.
    Cable news driven by money and agenda can’t bear the full blame. Network and online-only outlets are also guilty. Probably newspapers too.
    Not only should journalists combat misinformation but also build trust again. Step outside the Washington-NY-LA bubble and actually speak with ordinary people and try to understand them and not ridicule and write them off because they don’t agree with them. It also helps in developing better questioning skills since they may learn more in seeing things from more perspectives than that narrow metropolitan view.

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