Increasingly today, we see a struggle for every voice to be heard - blogs, Facebook, twitter, news aggregates, YouTube - yet we still turn to traditional media outlets to find the information from the professionals.
Think about that influence at a local level. At what point did it become acceptable for an integral news source to promote candidates indirectly with skewed articles and online coverage?
The September 18 article "Getting to Voters 140 Characters at a Time", features two images: the Facebook logo, and a screen capture of the campaign page for only one candidate.
The October 6 article "Wondering Where to Vote? Ask Larry" writes about a tool on one candidate's campaign website that tells Hamiltonians where they can vote. The city website already does a very capable job of this.
The October 13 article "DiIanni Poll Puts Him in Front in Mayoral Race" actually reports a "leaked" poll from a candidate's campaign that puts the candidate in question in the lead. How this qualified as newsworthy and was printed baffles me.
We're hard pressed for local news, save a few mainstream sources. These sources rely heavily on advertising dollars for their publications, meaning they need to sell more to receive more. It's a reappearing dichotomy that some would argue has pushed the mainstream media's ability to report with journalistic integrity into something imperceptibly persuasive, except these days its not spend, buy, go - it's who to vote for.
Hard-hitting reporting has taken a back seat to fluff pieces:
While at times informative, these pieces have replaced the real issues and questions raised by concerned, engaged residents at debates. Coverage of candidate responses has devolved into attendance figures, humourous quips grabbed like TMZ-esque sound bites, publicity stunts, and sparring matches.
In this day an age, I would have hoped for change in our media coverage, much like the change people call for at City Hall. Technology enables news providers to cover elections in so many varied ways - streaming debates, live blogging with reader engagement, up-to-date accurate candidate information, clips or video of debates - of which we have seen too little in the mainstream media.
On the other hand, non-traditional sources of news like Raise the Hammer and The Hamiltonian and independent citizen journalists like Joey Coleman appear to be doing their utmost to maintain an ethical non-bias, allowing the people more access to the information to make up their own minds and engaging them in conversation, as Jason Leach mentioned in his recent blog entry.
Knowledge is power - it's how knowledge is wielded that counts. A Municipal Election should be about electing the candidate who is the best person for the job - not creating a futures market in selling newspapers.
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