Charges are made that television emphasizes personalities and the horse race aspect of election issues. would you defend or refute this cricismThis question is for a class teamwork and i dont...

Charges are made that television emphasizes personalities and the horse race aspect of election issues.

would you defend or refute this cricism

This question is for a class teamwork and i dont really know how to anwser the Question

Asked on by mrjaylopez

3 Answers | Add Yours

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

There is no question that this is true -- it is one of the major criticisms of the media that is made in every college political science text that I have ever used in classes I have taught.

The reason for this is that the media must make a profit.  Therefore, they must present events in a way that is understandable and exciting.  By using personalities and emphasizing the horse race, the media is playing up the most understandable and exciting parts of the election process.

Most people will not want to listen, for example, to a long discussion of the merits of cap and trade versus a carbon tax.  But they will be much more interested in a discussion of how someone is looking like "the comeback kid" because of how they have bounced back in the polls.

The media gives us what we want, and what we want is things that we can easily understand.  Personalities and horse race competition fit the bill.

kapokkid's profile pic

kapokkid | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

Certainly consulting what you have in class would be important.  If you are looking for opinions, I would tend to defend the statement that TV emphasizes looks, personality, and the sound byte type of campaign over any real sort of discussion or debate.

At the same time, it is important to note that campaigning has always been about saying what you need to in order to get elected, so that part of it is not changed by TV.

But it does tend to emphasize the one side and another side aspect by forcing the candidates to compete in very short frames of time.  Instead of discussing solutions, or taking the time to be clear and informative, it has more to do with being dapper, smooth, and sticking to a preset strategy.

akannan's profile pic

Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I would stress that if the instructor or teacher has discussed this in a larger context and this fits part of that pattern in terms of in class discussion and assigned readings, consulting these resources would be essential.  Outside of that, the statement is asking you to assess if television and the media, in general, trivialize the political elections by positioning personality and individual charisma over substantive debate.  This one will get a great deal of responses from different sources.  I think that there is some validity to the statement and some limitation to it.  Indeed, television and the media do possess a tendency to make elections a bit like a "horse race" in discussing the competitive aspect.  However, I think that this is something with which the public willingly goes along.  It is much easier to focus on personality and charisma than engage in a substantive discussion of the issues.  Assessing where candidates' stance on particular issues lie as well as the feasibility of their solutions, and perhaps engaging in analysis to see if there is any significant difference  between candidates' platforms are all tasks that require attention and detail.  The public seems to be much more content being able to critique a gaffe in a politician's speech or whether they lied on their taxes fifteen years ago.  This is something that resonates with the public mindset.  In addition to this, such items "play well" in a media cycle that has become 24 hours and is proliferated all over the internet and technological forums.  In all honesty, it is much easier to tweet about a politician's superficiality than it is to articulate their policy paradigm because the latter would probably exceed 140 characters.  I don't think that anyone is particularly pleased with this, but it is where things stand right now, in my perception.  This setting is one where the media and the public feed off one another and the line to sense between where one initiates the other is a challenge to identify.

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