“Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed: everything else is public relations.” -George Orwell
Journalism not about pleasing everyone…
Some people want big government, and others want limited government. Some people are Democratic and some are Republican. Some people are very engaged in politics, but aren’t registered with either main party. What’s the big deal? The point is, everyone has different wants, desires, beliefs, and stances. Journalists shouldn’t try to please everyone.
So what exactly is a journalist’s role in politics?
Is it their job to write about “electable candidates”? What about making sure everyone knows which candidate is Republican or Democrat? It probably isn’t entirely possible for any journalist to be completely unbiased in their political writings – and that’s understandable. I will venture to say that everyone reading this is biased in their political views – and that is alright. Your beliefs are always right, and whoever disagrees with you is wrong. That’s just how most of our brains work.
Journalists need to stick to the facts
With this in mind, how is a journalist supposed to balance his/her writings about politics? How do they publish anything regarding politics and not include their personal beliefs? Honestly, I don’t know that they can entirely.
However, if journalists can limit their opinion, stick to the facts, and report as much information as possible, readers could then decide on their own what is valuable, right, wrong, and useless about each candidate, issue, and election. Where has the “fair and balanced” press coverage gone? Does it even exist anymore? Why are we bombarded by Republican views, Democratic stances, yet rarely receive any third party coverage? Surely a journalist’s role is not to decide for the general population what is best for them. However, it is to present facts on all issues.
Fair and balanced press
Maybe a candidate isn’t electable or liked – OR maybe they are and most media don’t give them the time of day. Maybe people don’t know enough about a candidate to form an opinion on whether his/her views align appropriately.
Most people couldn’t name more than one or two candidates for governor, senate, attorney general, or any other state office in Colorado. Let’s look at my home district (D3) as an example.
Abel Tapia was on the ballot for the Democrats. It may surprise many that there were actually two other candidates in 2014. Can anyone name them?
Travis Mero ran as a Libertarian candidate. Tisha Casida ran as an Independent or unaffiliated candidate.
Unlike Republicans and Democrats, unaffiliated candidates have to collect signatures for this privilege. Their spots are not reserved for them by a party. Yet, due to minimal press coverage, most voters in CD3 probably haven’t even heard of Casida or Mero. This is what a journalist’s role in politics is. Report on the candidates, not on who they think is electable. Remember, it’s not their job to decide who is electable for Colorado’s 3rd Congressional district – it is the people’s job to do that.
Third party candidates carry more weight than it seems
Third party candidates like Casida are often completely ignored by mainstream media (and locally) because the companies releasing coverage often don’t think certain candidates are relevant. Others claim that these candidates don’t poll high enough to “qualify” for press coverage or debates. Interestingly, most polling agencies don’t include third party candidates in their polls, so how well can an unaffiliated candidate poll in the first place?
A perfect example of this is how Casida was excluded from the two largest debates in 2014. After including Casida in the debate in 2012, a non-partisan organization in Grand Junction refused to invite her to participate in their debate in 2014. She was also excluded from the debates in Pueblo. The non-partisan group in Grand Junction claims that because Casida was not represented by a political party, they could not allow her to debate.
Ironically, when the figures are examined, the people that do their own research and seek out alternative candidates usually end up voting for them. Casida had very limited funds, (because she is not affiliated with either major party) but when people heard her message, they typically voted for her. So, what figures am I talking about?
First of all, Casida gained more votes in Colorado’s 3rd district than any woman in our history. She also gained more votes than any Independent candidate in the district’s history. Check this out: incumbent Scott Tipton had over $122 available for every $1 Casida had. However, Tipton barely collected 14 times more votes than the “unqualified” and under-publicized alternative candidate.
Let’s look at this in a more understandable way. Tipton spent $7.53 for every vote collected. Abel Tapia spent a remarkably low $2.51 per vote. What about Casida? $1.12. So why are candidates like this ignored when 29% of voters in Colorado’s 3rd district aren’t affiliated with either the Republican or the Democratic party?
Something needs to change. Just five months before 2014’s election, Congress only had an approval rating of 15% according to Gallup.
The bottom line…
The unfortunate fact is this: many media outlets (newspapers, news stations, magazines, etc….) choose not to write about third party candidates because they think it’s a waste of ink/money. Yet, by almost anyone’s standards, it is their job to inform the public, distribute facts, and tell what’s happening – not make decisions for people who haven’t even been presented the full array of options.
Journalists often walk a fine line when it comes to politics. It’s nearly impossible to ignore their beliefs entirely, but they shouldn’t completely ignore candidates or issues because they don’t view them as a legitimate candidate. Yet, it is typical practice for third party candidates to be excluded.
Has America become more of a democracy than a republic? In a democracy, majority rules. In a republic, every voice is heard, regardless of how minor it may seem at the moment. Remember, America was established as a Constitutional Republic.
Just a decade ago, the Libertarian party and Tea Party movement were relatively unknown, but are now a part of everyday conversation. Has press coverage started to ignore “unpopular” issues in the hope that they will simply disappear? Have the media started ignoring candidates that aren’t “run of the mill” candidates? As the philosopher Ayn Rand once said,
“The smallest minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights cannot claim to be defenders of minorities.”
Encourage your local news outlets to report all stories, candidates, and options in 2016. Do your own research, knowing that the media doesn’t always shine light on who may be the best viable candidate. Decide for yourself which candidate deserves your vote.
For more information on Tisha Casida and the Blue Republican, check out http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robin-koerner/blue-republican-movement-_b_1981846.html