Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Media's Influence (Tory Johnson)

I don't think I've ever really thought about "the liberal media" as much as I have this week. A majority of the speakers that we heard this week all had something to say about bias in the media. Our site visit to Accuracy in Media (AIM) clearly believes that the liberal media is ever-present and a strong influence on the American public. Their goal came across as fighting the liberal media with the conservative viewpoints of the issues (nevermind the stories that are clearly conservative). Steve Bell, our faculty director, spoke to the fact that Obama had more positive coverage than McCain did during the election season. He showed us video clips of the treatment each candidate received on morning talk shows like The View. The panelists on this show really threw hard questions McCain's way while on their show, yet they talked more about Obama's rockstar persona when interviewing Barack Obama. Does the media's positive attention on Barack Obama present a problem for understanding this candidate? Is Obama's extreme popularity due to his message of hope an obstacle he must overcome? I'm afraid it is.

I am inspired by Barack Obama. I feel that if anyone can change the way our country relates with the rest of the world and can protect the American people by working to provide healthcare for everyone as well as a quality education, he can do it. However, I worry. America is extremely energized. They've witnessed Obama's charismatic speeches, his positive media coverage, and his emphasized message for change, and they are ready to rally behind him. Expectations are high, and I'm worried. Change is not going to come quickly. I fear that the energy of the public will quickly die down and become frustration and criticism of Obama as he begins his work as the President. I do not think that we can expect much progress quickly. As Dana Perino said, the First 100 days deadline is false. Because our government is set up as a checks and balances kind of system, cooperation between the executive and legistlative branches is key in bringing the change we need. Sam Donaldson cautioned our audience, telling us not to expect everything to get fixed soon. I just wish that the entire American public could understand the obstacles facing Obama and his administration as far as bringing change quickly to the world. We cannot be too emotional in our support for Obama. We also have to be critical and logical. I fear that the media have not emphasized this point enough. Maybe the media have focused too much on Obama's positive attitude. One girl in a Q&A session asked if our optimism is a problem. As much as I wanted to say, "No!", I couldn't. Optimism is great, yes, but without the complete understanding of the issues and the obstacles that lay ahead, optimism is a false sense of hope. We need to have hope but also have patience. If the media can focus on this now instead of Obama's rockstar image, I feel that we really can make progress in the world.

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