A friend said to me over the summer' "The great irony of political journalism is that journalists are supposed to tell the truth, and its impossible to get that from a politician." I laughed at his joke, although secretly I was bemoaning the truth in that statement.
Politicians don't often tell the truth, and when they do its spun in such a way that its not actually wholly true. The most tragic part of this situation is that journalists often let them get away with this. Not enough fact checking has been in newspapers, and because of this politicians are often let off the hook with the insane claims that they make.
Fortunately the fact-checking website PolitiFact is doing a very good job of holding the feet of our leaders to the metaphorical fire.
Started in 2007 by Tampa Bay Times Washington Bureau chief Bill Adair, Politifact evaluates statements made by political officials and organizations as to their level of factual accuracy, and assigns them a rating on the "Truth-o-meter." This process catches politicians stretching the truth, or flat-out lying, on a daily basis.
Politifact's Truth-O-Meter explains the fallacy in this statement by the President.
What I love about PolitiFact is that they don't just point out that a statement is incorrect, they explain why it is wrong. When a lot of news shows call out their ideological opponents they don't often take this step.
Unfortunately websites such as PolitiFact don't have enough national influence to make politicians wary. At best, they just keep those who read the site informed. Journalists need to start taking a stand in the newspapers as well as online.
Ann Romney, right, is introduced before her speech
Ann Romney appeared at the Marquette old Gymnasium in a routine campaign stop hosted by the Marquette College Republicans. The event, which focused on women, was a stereotypical wife of the candidate campaign stop, with no major implications for the Romney campaign.
Among the speakers,invited to the event was Wisconsin Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch, who spent a significant portion of time railing against the "liberal media." This is one of the far right talking points that bothers me the most, because I believe it is bad for the country. This "conservative vs. liberal to the death" style of politics is damaging to the country. We saw it with the deficit ceiling debates of last summer, where the two sides couldn't get together long enough to agree to pay their own bills, and ended up downgrading the US's credit rating. This concept of being against the media makes it impossible for the media to fulfill their role as the fourth estate and properly inform the voting population.
Now that I have finished my rant, I can talk about Romney's speech, which was really nothing special. It was exactly what you would expect from a wife of the candidate. She told a few folksy anecdotes about her husband and tried to show omen in the state how Mitt Romney would fight for them. She made routine references to an "Army of Women" in Wi. that would be supporting the Romney/Ryan ticket.
What makes this assertion interesting is the poll numbers that were released the day of the speech. A poll that day had Obama favored by 16 points, 54-38, among women voters in Wi. Perhaps the "Army of Women" is not as large as she let on.
Photo Courtesy Alex Rydin
On Tuesday, the Diederich College of Communication hosted the Burleigh Media Ethics Lecture featuring New York Times journalist David Bornstein. He is an advocate for what he calls solution journalism, or simply reporting on social innovation rather than on hardship and misery, which seems to be the common practice in today's journalism world.
Bornstein said that journalism is great at exposing and killing the bad parts of our society, but far too often fails to accurately promote the good things that promote positive change in our society. He used the metaphor of keeping a human body healthy to explain the two ways that you can promote change. "You have to inhibit disease," which Bornstein says we are already very good at. "And you have to work to create the conditions that boost health," which is where solution journalism becomes so important.
Bornstein also believes there is no economic excuse for not reporting solutions stories. Good solutions stories have recently gone viral on the internet. Bornstein specifically pointed to an article he wrote about the Nurse Family partnership program, which pairs nurses with low income families to oversee the health of a child. That article was one of the most emailed on the New York Times. This is why Bornstein views solution journalism as a market opportunity, rather than a failure of the journalism market.
I for one believe that solutions journalism prevents an interesting light o view a story that I had not previously encountered. Focusing on the "how" of a story rather than the five W's creates an angle that, as Bornstein correctly pointed out, is not covered by many journalists. This opens up a niche in the market that I would like to fill with my stories.
Poynter's News U is an online project of the Poynter institute that offers newsroom training for journalists and journalism students. As part of my journalism classes over the past two years with Herbert Lowe, I have had to take many online classes and webinars, and usually find them informative and helpful. This most recent one covering Religion in Politics I found to be dull and annoying.
It should be noted that my aggravation was not at the content of the presentation, but rather its setup. The video in the corner did not buffer well, and therefor lagged the entire time making it very difficult to follow along. Now that we have that in the open I can actually respond to what I experienced in the presentation.
The webinar, officially titled "Reporting on Religion and Political Candidates," was presented by Howard Finberg, the founder of News U, and Kelly McBride, a former religion reporter who holds a masters in religious studies from Gonzaga University.
At first I found the information to be a bit obvious. There wasn't exactly any shock or surprise when McBride listed context, accuracy, authenticity, nuance and fact checking as "journalism values that help." As these are core values in all facets of journalism, i was not provided any new information when I was told they helped here.
It wasn't until later when McBride began talking about how reporters cover religion that I felt like I was really learning. McBride discussed how the stigma surrounding discussing other people's religion often affects good reporting. She brought up coverage of Newt Gingrich's conversion to Catholicism, and how different questions may have furthered the public debate a bit more.
Overall the webinar was a potentially good project, that was felled b
It would be refreshing to get a brief respite from the madness of presidential election coverage if it didn't come on such a sad day. Looking at my NBC News
beat assignment I am reminded of how I spent that day.
I was in Mrs. Stevens' fourth grade classroom with my good friend Michael Klunder. We were in extremely good spirits that morning as I had turned 10 years old the day before, and his birthday was that day. I remember our teacher leaving for the school office early in the morning, and coming back in a panicked state, and trying to explain what had happened to a group of hyper children. My mom picked me up from school a short while later and we spent the rest of the day watching the news.
As a ten year old, a tragedy like that was difficult to comprehend. It wasn't until much later that I really understood the immensity of what had happened. Looking back, my 9/11 experience was mostly watching the shocked adults around me react.
This is why I always find it interesting to see the coverage of 9/11 anniversary services. 11 years later we are winding down the wars that the attack started. We caught and killed those who were most responsible. Memorials have been erected and stories have been told. Yet there is still a great amount of pain in this country.
NBC News does a good job showing this pain in their coverage. Their photo streams and articles show the hurt that still remains in those most affected by the attacks, and the solemnity with which we all handle this day. With many relatives working in Washington DC and New York that morning, I can't help but think of how the events of that day could have been so drastically different for me.
Sherrod Brown is an important man in the democratic party. As a senior senator from Ohio he has been one of the leading liberal voices for labor, and one of the most ardent supporters of the president. He is a democratic rock star, so why is he tied in a senate race against a 34 year old with no national government experience?
Josh Mandel is a rising star in the GOP. He is the current treasurer of Ohio and a former Ohio state representative from Cleveland. He is a tea-party affiliate and many people believe he will become the next Marco Rubio. It is this stark contrast to Brown that has Mandel so close in this race. Brown is falling victim to the recent trend in which rich conservative donors give massive amounts of money to conservative candidates for the sake of ousting liberal ones. In 2011 the National Journal named Brown the most liberal member of congress,
and since then there has been massive support for republican candidates who have proposed to run against him.And with money coming in from all over the country to support Mandel, Brown is finding it difficult to keep up, even as the incumbent. In April, the Huffington Post reported
that over 5 million dollars had already been spent on negative ads against Brown by outside groups. With all this
outside money it will be interesting to see if
Although I am a bit disappointed that I did not manage to draw my hometown newspaper The Washington Post
as my semester beat assignment in my elections class, I am glad that I managed to pull down another one of my favorite news agencies in NBC News
. As an avid watcher of Meet the Press
and fan of the network's Nightly News
program, the home of Brain Williams and Chuck Todd has always been good to me. As one of the world's most respected news outlets NBC News should provide extensive coverage of the 2012 election from a national point of view. So on a night when former president Bill Clinton presented one of the most memorable political speeches in years at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte
, NC, I expected the website to be in full swing with coverage. I was not disappointed.
Shortly after the speech was completed, NBC News had posted a video of the speech online, along with reaction from pundits on the floor, including Chris Matthews and Darrell Hammond, who used to portray Clinton in Saturday Night Live sketches.
I also have to point out how much i love NBC's video player. In my apartment where every video player I have ever encountered lags due to slow internet, NBC's works seamlessly.
Beyond general news gathering, NBC News also offers a lot of tools for examining the election. There is easy access to polls right on the front page. A color coded map of the United states breaks down where the battle grounds are and which states are likely to fall to which party. One thing that is very intriguing is a chart showing President Obama's voter confidence index, which is a tool used by NBC News to measure the electorate's confidence in the president at any given time.
Most importantly, NBC News has an entire section of its website devoted to election coverage, which will make my beat a whole lot easier.
Photo pulled from mattrothphoto.com
The selection of ABC news Senior Foreign Correspondent Martha Raddatz as host for the Vie Presidential debate has created quite a stir. GOP loyalists have been quick to point out ties between her and the Obama administration, as well as between the Obama administration and the Commission on Presidential debates.
Raddatz was formerly married to FCC Chairman and former Obama classmate Julius Genachowski. The concern of the conservative right is that the Obama administration was able to muscle in a moderator that they chose, or that Raddatz may have biases of her own. It is unclear weather Raddatz ever even met the future president while married to Genachowski.
Members of the Obama Administration have been slow to comment on the situation. In an article by Josh Peterson of the Daily Caller, Mike McCurry, co-chair of the Commission on Presidential Debates is quoted as saying "We selected the moderators based on their reputations for integrity and journalistic impartiality among other things. What counts is the quality of their work, not who they have been married to in the past."
In my humble opinion, this is nothing more than opposition rabble rousing. It is not unique to any one party, as I can guarantee the liberal side of politics would be doing the same thing if someone with Romney connections had been chosen to host the debate. What is more important is Raddatz's ability to control the flow of conversation during the debate. Too often candidates are asked questions and then allowed to sidestep the answer to avoid bad press, or are given softball questions. If Raddatz can hold the candidates to the fire and make them answer questions then