Our conversation centers on the realities and dynamics of news, coverage and commentary in politics, and the influence of political media on the public’s opinion in this era of new media.
This article was inspired by a piece on Dr. Melissa Harris-Perry, the newly minted weekend host on MSNBC, and her clear frustration with how the media covers politics.
During her Sunday show, Harris-Perry discussed what she called “a dirty little secret” that those who cover “horse-race politics” like to keep under wraps. “We are suffering from premature speculation,” Harris-Perry said.
The 2012 Republican primary race has taken many sharp twists and turns. Harris-Perry showed headlines from leading news organizations that reflected the Republican primary’s constant change of course. Headlines read “Herman Cain, Frontrunner,” to “Another Poll Confirms Trump As Republican Frontrunner,” to “Ingraham: Perry Should Drop Out.”
“Headlines like these…expose the media for its secret wish to skip the foreplay and get right to the main event,” Harris-Perry said. “And it’s all left me very frustrated.”
SOURCE: Melissa Harris-Perry: The Media Suffers From ‘Premature Speculation’ (VIDEO) HUFFINGTON POST
Mainstream media is doing its job as best it can in this new area of media the dynamics of which are changing nearly every news cycle of the week because of the impact of digital technology, blogging and the 24 hour news cycle.
There was a time when the media took the lead in shaping policy and influencing the public’s opinion. Thus, for example, when some of the giants of the media such as David Brinkley or Mike Wallace or Tom Brokaw aired a story and articulated a viewpoint, that view had some shelf life. It influenced the coverage of political news for several weeks, and over time influenced opinions, policy decisions and outcomes in political contests.
But, the good old days of political media and its influence in shaping public opinion are gone.
Today, a Dr. Melissa Harris-Perry can air a scholarly commentary on an important issue of public policy or a significant development in politics, and within minutes it can be shredded, and then lost forever in the court of public opinion. An attack can be mounted in minutes by bloggers; disseminated worldwide on the Internet within a few more minutes, and by the time of the talk shows on radio, TV and the Internet within hours on the same morning, afternoon and evening of the news cycle, be distorted and discredited.
So, Dr. Harris-Perry, we understand your frustration. But, the playing field and dynamics of political media have changed dramatically.
To be credible, informative and sustainable in today’s environment as a political analyst and commentator, you and others in the media will have to call the balls and strikes well before you step up to the plate, and well before you would have done so before the evolution of digital technology.
“And, that’s the way it is.”