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Editorial 4B • Thursday, May 10, 2012

Media electoral coverage is terrible

Op/Ed Editor: Eric Christenson

‘War on women’ term is misleading Focus on men and family is important, too



Election just comes down to unnecessary speculation

Those who want to protect Since the Republican primary contraception, let’s not forget for the presidential nomination unexpected pregnancy isn’t the contraceptive and abortion began, women have been on only possible problem to arise. rights should follow an examSexually transmitted infec- ple from Rick Santorum’s GOP the radar. Issues of birth control and tions are another very impor- primary campaign. Yes, you abortion have been highlighted tant factor to consider, especial- read that correctly. Rick Santorum gained a in the race in a way that has ly as it’s something that affects left many liberals and feminists both men and women in a more large number of supportproclaiming the ‘war on wom- obviously similar way. ers throughout his campaign, en’ has been revamped. Calling the issue a ‘war on including women. And after Gov. Scott Walk- women’ leaves men out, and One of the reasons Santoer passed legislation banning that’s not OK. rum gained female supporters health care plans from coverMen make up about half was because he spoke about the ing abortion, for example, it’s a of the U.S. population. While issues of birth control and aborphrase heard even more often there are plenty of men who tion as harming family values. in Wisconsin. are concerned about these isHe treated these issues not But the label of ‘war on sues already, there are some as belonging to women, but bewomen’ does nothing but set who aren’t because they don’t longing to all, as he claimed the back the fight against conser- see it as important to them. traditional family was the backvative legislabone to American tion that takes society and aborAlso, in this overarching picture of away the rights tion and contracepwomen have or women’s rights — of all people, regardless tion harmed the ought to have traditional family. when it comes of gender — having equal opportunity and If the traditional to issues such equal rights, this label further establishes a family went down, as birth control we all went down. divide between men and women. and abortion. And thus, Santorum portrayed the issues Calling it the as affecting all of us. ‘war on women’ If you focus the issue on makes it sound like these issues Also, in this overarching only affect women and should picture of women’s rights — families as well as on women’s only be important to women. of all people, regardless of rights, it opens up the issue to All it does is alienate men and gender — having equal oppor- more people. People who would those who don’t consider them- tunity and equal rights, this la- otherwise ignore issues involvselves feminists from support- bel further establishes a divide ing women’s rights, including issues of equal pay as many ing the cause. between men and women In most sexual activities, Another aspect of the la- families today rely on paychecks especially those that lead to beled ‘war on women’ is not from both men and women. Attaching the somewhat pregnancy, there are two people all women view themselves dramatic phrase ‘war on wominvolved. For heterosexual part- as feminists. en’ is bound to turn some peoners, an unplanned pregnancy Feminists and supporters of ple off. Right now, those who would affect both of them — feminism: As much as I know want to protect women’s rights not just the woman. you hate it, there are plenty of need to show how they are Whether he would be in- women who have a very stereoimportant to all. volved with raising the child type-based view of what femiSo call it a war on sexuor paying child support checks, nism is and feel like it has nothal health. Call it an unprecthe men who are involved in ing to do with them. edented control on famithese situations are also afTalking about this issue as lies, but stop calling it a war fected by an accidental preg- only harming women’s rights, on women. nancy. While their bodies as only being a war on women don’t face changes, their lives can turn some of these women certainly do. off. They’ll look at it as a ‘femi- Zblewski is a senior journalism and And when it comes to the is- nists’ issue and something that political science major and news editor of sue of affordable and available doesn’t concern them. The Spectator.

Wisconsin is in a unique situation. I guess it doesn’t help the state is often considered a swing state anyways, when it comes to presidential races. It is that time of year again, and it is not the only election the state has to worry about. In case anyone was not already aware, we have a sort of historic recall election going on as well. For these aforementioned reasons, being a politically informed Wisconsinite has never been more important. Now as the presidential election heats up (just one more thing to add to the electoral smorgasbord in the state), there will be plenty of news coverage on the race. This leads us to one of the biggest problems this nation has to face. It is not the political instability — happening both in-state and abroad — nor is it the gridlock in Washington. It’s a very serious problem our nation and democracy itself faces is the quality of electoral news coverage. To be blunt, it is terrible. Awful. Appalling. It is important we as citizens ask ourselves, “What is wrong with media coverage of elections and how should it be fixed?” It turns out, to no surprise, the former is much easier to answer. There are two main methods of covering politics: One is an issue-based strategy that focuses on the policy and big issues of the campaign. The bulk of this method is in-depth analysis using experts on the topic and attempts to get the candidates to go beyond political rhetoric. If any person pays close attention to national election news, they would know this isn’t the type with media coverage we are get-

ting. Everything is based in conflict and the horse race strategy: Who is leading? What tactics are they using? Talking heads and political pundits who are seen as “experts” love speculating on campaign strategy. At the same time, minor controversies (such as political ads that go “too far”) detract national discussion from what is actually important. In the end, news consumers are stuck with a load of garbage. I cannot express how frustrating it is to go to the “politics” section of any media outlet and see nothing but horse race, strategy, speculation and more horse race. I could go on for what I’d guess to be infinity about how terrible electoral news coverage is, but more important to this discussion is finding a solution. The answer is truly complex, and would require lots of things to happen. But for now, we as news consumers can start fixing it by not settling for what we have. If somehow everyone stopped eating up this conflict-based coverage and demanded something better, the media would have no choice but to give us better electoral news. Here lies another problem: It seems we don’t want that. As an aggregate audience, we are politically ignorant and do not want to think. For some reason, it hurts to learn new things. This leads to another problem that needs addressing. How do we shift consumer demand from dumbed-down to more intelligent news? Good luck answering that one. Zank is a junior journalism and political science major and staff writer for The Spectator.

If you’re going to phone it in during finals, at least use an actual phone. Have a great summer from the Spectator staff!

The Spectator, Volume 90, Issue 29  
The Spectator, Volume 90, Issue 29  

Date of publicaiton: May 10, 2012