Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Saturday, April 21, 2018

Looking to the years ahead, it’s time for more responsible media election coverage

As the election coverage comes to its close tonight, the immense role of media during the entirety of this cycle is indisputable. Donald Trump’s comments, often offensive and unprofessional, have made headlines time and time again. Hillary Clinton’s email scandal has followed her since day one. Even for outlier candidates such as Gary Johnson and Jill Stein, the media coverage has given them a greater voice than any third party candidate before.

However, with the intense media coverage of the presidential election, we feel other important news stories were frequently sidelined. Local communities, such as the Standing Rock Sioux in North Dakota fighting against the installation of a pipeline, were not given significant attention in mainstream news outlets. Rather, headlines full of clickbait titles were either praising or raging against something Trump or Clinton said.

In one of the most polarizing elections of all time, media outlets chose to engage with confirmation bias rather than holistically present fact. Too often, this election has shown a lack of objectivity and empathy in journalism. Although the large amount of Trump coverage gave him a platform to further political polarization in the nation, media outlets have posited skewed portrayals of Trump supporters, often labelling them with generalizations and treating them as monolithic. Instead of choosing to engage with readers issue by issue, entertaining some concerns as legitimate, emphasis has been placed on shock value rather than shared humanity.

It is unsurprising that this election has caused nationwide election fatigue. With so many half-truths and lies spread amongst media outlets from the potential leaders of our nation, the responsibility of fact-checking is more important now than ever. As journalists, we at The Eagle hope in the future that a more responsible type of media coverage is enacted, especially as we look to be the next generation of reporters. The complaints that many have lodged about the media and its impact in the election are not without merit. Too many times, more attention has been given to the theatrics of the presidential debates or the individual candidates rather than the issues themselves. It is important for truth to be valued over clicks.

That said, The Eagle looks forward to seeing how the role of media evolves in the next four years with technological advances and constantly shifting political landscape. Will the media cultivate more trust in the election process or will it disillusion voters? It has been endlessly encouraging to see our campus community uphold its reputation of profound, political activism by voting in this important election cycle. Regardless of the outcome, The Eagle remains committed to representing the issues most pertinent to our community and engaging in ethical, meaningful journalism.


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