Election 2004: Did the Media Fail?

author: Terence Smith
author: Cathy Young, The Boston Globe
published: March 8, 2013,   recorded: February 2005,   views: 2298
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These two speakers share a strong sense of regret for missed opportunities during the 2004 election. Terence Smith points to “big shortcomings—the unanswered questions and unaddressed topics.” Among these: The inability of news organizations to cover the war on terrorism as a political issue, and an examination of “Republicans’ competence at electioneering, and their sophisticated operation in 50 states.” Another “harsh fact about the coverage: Despite the big turnout, the great portion of the public tuned out.” Smith is “not sure that the vast complex known as the media got through to the public in any great detail.” He wonders how skeptical and probing the media will be “if the administration begins to beat war drums again on Iran or Syria.”

Cathy Young notes with concern the increasing relevance of the internet in politics. When people turn to the web, they “stay in an ideologically congenial niche,” avoiding anything that challenges their sensibilities. In 2004, Young saw the “media returning to an older model of partisanship,” where newspapers staked out positions overtly to the left or right. She also worries about “unconscious assumptions of the media,” which are reflected in coverage of such issues as abortion rights. She remarks as well on the unfortunate simplicity of red and blue labeling, and the “tendency to put people into ideological boxes.”

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