Media turns election into entertainment

Emily Coster

Emily Coster

American citizens have a civic duty to participate in the nation’s democratic processes and political discourse. In order to contribute effectively, however, we must be thoroughly informed about pertinent political issues and world events. Thus, we must be proactive citizens and we must seek out credible news sources instead of relying on more convenient outlets.
Over the course the 2016 election cycle, widespread reliance on television news sources for information has left Americans insufficiently informed. We should find alternate ways to receive the information we need.
According to a Pew Research Center study, the most widely used news source among Americans is television news. In fact, nearly eight in ten Americans learned about the 2016 election from a television-based news source, according to another Pew Research Center study.

In July 2016, Pew Research Center published "The Modern News Consumer", a comprehensive report about how Americans receive news information.
In July 2016, Pew Research Center published “The Modern News Consumer,”  a comprehensive report about how Americans receive news information.                              Courtesy of a Pew Research Center study.

Yet, commercial television news sources tend to present news as snappy, bite-sized soundbites of entertainment rather than substantive, reliable information. Furthermore, most television news outlets must appeal to massive audiences in order to make money, according to the book That’s the Way It Is: A History of Television News in America.
Likewise, many television programs seem to offer simplistic and binary views on complex issues. In fact, they fail to address these topics with the necessary, albeit unentertaining, amount of detail. For instance, commercial television programs often present striking statistics without providing adequate context, which can be misleading.
We are obligated to effectively educate ourselves about the issues of this election and the news in general. This is a simple yet vital step we can all take to become more civic-minded. We can consult a variety of sources, such as reputable newspapers, non-profit media, literature, research studies and data, or even historical information, to gain objective insight about today’s issues.
Emily Coster
Emily Coster ’18

As American citizens nearing a presidential election, we owe it to ourselves to remain active in civic discourse and be informed about the world around us.
Thus, we cannot rely solely on television programs to inform us about the latest political news. In this chaotic and highly sensationalized presidential campaign, it is imperative that we think analytically, independently, and critically about the presented issues and how we receive our information.
– Emily Coster, Opinions Editor and Co-Podcast Editor