The annual rite of transferring from baseball season to leaf-peeping season is here, which means holiday season is close behind. And forgive us for feeling a little greedy this year, but we would like to ask for a holiday wish a little early.
Our hope is that when this Election Day has come and gone, we do not have to write stories about how networks and stations around the country got too caught up in trying to be buzz-worthy and cute with their coverage, rather than using this one-day stage to flex the muscle of what a news organization can do, and what it still means to the public.
Conventional wisdom says Nov. 2 will be a referendum on the prevailing American sentiment to throw the bums out—whoever they are. The run-up to this election has been conducted under the cloud of a frustrated electorate—one that is mad as hell and doesn’t want to take the economy, wars, political sniping, and an overall feeling of pessimism any more. It has also been rife with oversized attention to some candidates who have little chance of winning but make for great headlines because of what they say, how they act, or whether they already have a certain Halloween costume (broomstick included) in their closet.
So, the bottom line is news divisions should be prepared for Election Day. With their coffers already filled with much-needed political dollars, stations have upped their game with new and dynamic ways to cover races. And while much attention gets paid to the vitriol and political bents on national news organizations like, say, Fox News and MSNBC, what often gets lost is the fine work they do on covering the issues, giving political junkies a place to go as the broadcast networks have programmed less news over the years.
But Election Day is the Super Bowl. And what we don’t need is the political coverage equivalent of a “wardrobe malfunction.” That is not the night for anchors to draw attention to themselves or try and prove they are smarter than everyone—and each other. It’s not the night to try and win the Snarkiest Person of the Year award. It should be a time where news organizations not only chronicle what is unfolding before our eyes, but more importantly, why it is happening and what it will mean beginning Nov. 3. In other words, to paraphrase Elvis, a little less action (for action’s sake) and a little more conversation.
So, all we want for the holidays is our two front teeth…and news organizations to put their best foot forward.
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