Media loses focus in election coverage

By Denebola
Published: October 2008

By Alex Gershanov

This year’s election will prove to be one of, if not the most, unorthodox that America has ever seen. With an African-American Democratic candidate and a female Republican vice presidential candidate, the media has been focusing widely on nonpolitical aspects of the race.

Candidates’ personal lives have become hot topics in the media spotlight, and gossip has begun to greatly influence the election. Popular magazines such as People have published articles focusing on Senator Barack Obama’s and Governor Sarah Palin’s family lives.

Because of this, and reinforcement through other forms of media such as television and the internet, the public has begun to formulate ideas based more on the candidates’ personal lives’ rather than their policies.

Obama and his family graced the cover of People’s August 4, 2008 issue. The article focuses on his home as well as his kids and the relatively strict lifestyles he demands of them. People are prone to focusing on quotes such as, “[The girls receive] no birthday or Christmas presents. Their image of Obama could be scarred as they become shocked and assume that Obama is a terrible father and is not fit to run a household, let alone a country.

A more serious matter that the media has leaked and scrutinized is the pregnancy of Palin’s oldest daughter, Bristol Palin. News of this was twisted and turned into gossip by internet sites such as

This information first hit teenagers and young voters, who may have known little about Palin’s policies and reforms. Although the scandal had negative effects, it also brought to light Palin’s view on abortion, which glorified her in the eyes of many Americans.

Though many people are heavily influenced by the personal lives’ of the candidates, some remain adamant in focusing solely on the political issues that each candidate discusses.

“I know mostly about the candidates ideas, although I know that their personal lives have affected others’ views on the candidates, Britney Bishop said.

The reason behind the prevailing infringement on politicians’ privacy is that modern American society has become engrossed in gossip and celebrity news.

With the current voting age set at 18, the media targets millions of young voters with this kind of gossip knowing that they are easily swayed to one side or the other.

“I think that the media focuses mostly on the candidates’ personal lives because they assume that this is what people are interested in and want to know about our future president, sophomore Jen Maxell said.

Others believe that the focus on personal aspects of candidates’ lives is nothing new and will not affect the election very much.

“Politicians influence a people’s view on them through their professional and political decisions, not their personal or social decisions, history teacher Kristen Russell said.

Nevertheless, the yield of  a candidate’s “celebrity status will be determined on Election Day. Until then, people will have to wait and see what other scandalous stories the media will uncover.

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