How journalism failed the public during the election cycle


A journalist’s job is to report. Not just to report what is happening, but also to share the facts with the general public and stay as unbiased as possible in an attempt to give the most information possible. But I think that we can all agree that journalists all over struggled to uphold these duties effectively throughout the presidential campaigns. It was predicted that Hillary Clinton’s  presidential odds were higher than Donald Trump due to the popular vote, which is usually based off the media. Journalists covering the campaigns looked to Clinton as more of a reasonable candidate than Trump. When Clinton’s email scandal was released, or when she referred to all Trump supporter as ‘a basket of deplorables’ the media blew up every website and newspaper in existence, whereas when Trump had his locker room talk scandal or when he refused to release his tax forms the media took a more leisurely approach to it and chose to disregard the major points of the issue. When it came time to cover Trump in a more in depth way, many sites still lacked the ability to hone in on what Trump was actually planning to do. Earlier in the campaign, Trump stated he would gain many of his votes from the minority groups, and the media kind of shook it off as empty rhetoric. A move like this from the media tells the audience to disregard the fact that Trump was trying to make a difference and appeal to more than just the majority of the country. This leads into the analysis of the rural area votes on Trump. Most of the national media is located on big city coasts and not in rural areas. Anyone looking in and trying to estimate the results forgot about all the rural areas, which is a huge portion of the country and which is also where a lot of the Trump voters resided. If the media covered a wider swath of the nation, they could make more accurate predictions  in the long run. I believe the election went the way it did due to the fact that  Clinton gained a lot of the press over the past two years of campaigning from just her and Trump going at it. The news were more likely to single her out, almost as if they were all biased towards her side. It appears that her substantial experience in politics actually hurt her when compared to Trump’s non-existent political experience.

Almost all of the general public was taken by surprise as they watched the election and then later watched Trump become the president-elect. Sites like the New York Times and CNBC gave Clinton an 85 to 15 percent chance of winning over Trump, and basically declared it to be an open and shut election. Watching Trump almost completely sweep the middle portions of the US came as a shock to most. However, if we were to watch the election over again we would see that when CNN predicted what state would go to which party, they were for the most part spot-on outside of a few errors in the upper midwest. Many of the news stations that were covering the election used the statistics of the population of the state along with the measurements from the previous elections to predict the state’s ‘color’; but with the press forgot to account for the vast differences in this election compared to previous contests. Their evidence and facts proved to be misleading. The media has a strong pull on everyone one way or another, so the way they cover things, and the angles they chose to take are pretty crucial in any situation, especially with an election this close. Do I believe that a more balanced approach to coverage would’ve changed the results of the election? Probably not, but it is the idea that the media covered the election unfairly. It’s the idea that the media thought of Clinton as the only ‘real’ candidate that ultimately made this race as shocking and unexpected as any in our country’s history.

Categories: Opinion

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