Monday, August 16, 2010

Commentary: Corporate Media Ignore Candidates

Smaller party and independent candidates like Green gubernatorial nominee Howie Hawkins feel like they hit the lottery if their names are mentioned even as a footnote in the mainstream press. It’s not surprising, but still enraging, that the corporate media has a bias in favor of the candidates of the two corporate parties.

The common rationalization for such bias is the self-serving claim that people aren’t interested in candidates deemed “fringe” by the media pooh bahs… a catch-22 if there ever was one. When I’ve pointed out this bias of ignoring non-major party candidates to media elites, a typical response has been: “when have we been biased?”

Here’s a little educational lesson: if you ignore candidates because they don’t belong to a major party, then you are, by definition, biased against non-major parties. Justify this slant if you think you can, but don’t insult our intelligence by pretending it’s not bias.

Something like 25 percent of registered voters are either independent or belong to a smaller party. How can the media justify the fact that candidates representing a quarter of the electorate get less than 1 percent of the reporting?

Earlier this week, The Post-Star found space to run an in-depth front page feature on Eliot Spitzer’s alleged former prostitute, who’s running for governor.

So the Glens Falls daily feels it would be a waste of resources to recognize the existence of (let alone report on) serious smaller party and independent statewide candidates like Hawkins, but thought it’d be a great idea to run a big front-page feature on a freak show candidate. This bread and circus is what we get from a paper that recently jacked up its newsstand price by 100 percent.

Newspapers seem to think that increasingly fewer people are willing to pay for their product because there’s less interest in serious, informative journalism. Maybe the actual reason is that journals like The Post-Star are offering less serious, informative news.

Lower Photo: Still from Frank Capra’s Platinum Blonde (Columbia Pictures, 1931).

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A nearly-lifelong resident of Glens Falls, Brian Farenell has been involved in writing and journalism since his high school days. After receiving a bachelor's degree from Clarkson University, he spent two years in the Peace Corps in the Republic of Guinea, West Africa. Although his traditional focuses have been international affairs (he's been published in Foreign Policy magazine) and media criticism, Brian maintains his own blog at Musings of a (Fairly) Young Contrarian, where he also offers insights and ideas about national and local issues.

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