How the News Media Has Failed Us This Election

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Editor’s Note: The following article was written by Eddie Weldon, a student in Professor Koslosky’s Journalism Workshop class. You can find this article, along with other election coverage at HuskiesVote2016.wordpress.com.

This election has been polarizing, and the candidates are not the only ones to blame. The media shares in that responsibility, and may be falling short in their responsibility to correct the facts.

The issues have become contorted and citizens are left with doubt about their support for either candidate and confusion on where to find genuine news sources.

Kristie Byrum, a mass communications professor, criticized the media, stating, “the problem within media has nothing to do with its bias for either party, but the inability to penetrate accuracy. As journalists, our goal is to serve the public with reliable information.”byrum_0

Take the debate about crime and immigration.

In the final debate of the general election, Donald Trump stated, “We have to have strong borders. We’re getting the drugs. They are getting the cash.”

Trump has been vocal about his plans to build a wall on the borders of Mexico. He says that illegal immigrants are the main source of high crime in this country and this fear based idea has since frightened millions of Americans, prominently Mexicans. But is his fear of high crime justified?

Christopher Hellanbrook, Ph.D at the University of California and current professor at Bloomsburg University, says, “Crime has plummeted since its peak in the 90’s, but some of the cable television networks still seem to harp on it as the country is still going through a crime epidemic, I stay away from news from cable networks.”hallenbrook2

According to U.S. National Victimization Survey, crime is down 71 percent from its peak in 1994. Also over this same period, the study shows that the rate of violent crime victimizations for 12 to 24 year-olds (the age bracket of people who commit the most crimes) fell by 78 percent.

So why hasn’t the media highlighted the fact that it’s a fallacy to correlate immigration to violent crime in America?

No ‘sense of servitude’

Byrum says one key problem with the news media today is that they have “lost their integrity and their sense of servitude to the citizen before the candidates.”

The media has not only withheld the truth but also worked side by side with particular candidates.

Byrum continues, “It is one thing for the media to set certain biases toward a candidate to fit the news network agenda but blatant action that skews the voter’s perception is troubling.”

Not rigged

Trump, in the final debate, mentioned that the presidential election was rigged.

“The media is so dishonest and so corrupt and it plays in the minds of voters,” Trump said.

And WikiLeaks has leaked information that bolsters his claims. They have released emails including advance notices of debate questions, promises of positive coverage and editorial control over stories.

WikiLeaks tweets, “Journalism is at an end if the press lets the Clinton campaign endlessly get away with dodging questions using, we were hacked, on every issue.”

The accusations have not been combated but rather dismissed by many in the media.

Policy Stakes

Throughout both the primary and general election one of the major rhetoric that the media sends is that candidates’, such as Trump and Bernie Sanders. campaigns were not based on policy. This led to information on policy being one sided for Hillary Clinton.

Sanders has a website, Berniesanders.com, which gives an in-depth description of all his policy proposals and how he plans to execute them.

In this video The Young Turks explain further:

Donald Trump actually has a plan as well that’s not being discussed on major networks.

According to Vox.com, Trump has a plan on lowering the tax rate for hedge funds to 15 percent, and he endorses Paul Ryan’s centerpiece idea of lowering taxes on the rich, financed by deep cuts in anti-poverty programs, paired with broad deregulation of the finance and health sectors.

However, the major news networks still feature hot topics instead of policy in their coverage.

The problem

The problem might deeply lie with the fact that the media is being rewarded for this. CNN.com, Yahoo News, and NYTimes.com have all generated new traffic records every month this cycle.

According to ComScore, The Washington Post online traffic has reached a peak almost every month this year, topped by September’s figure: 83.1 unique visitors.

Across the board, major news stations have had a lot of success.

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