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Election cycle takes its toll

October 14, 2012
Weirton Daily Times

To the editor:

This election season has already taken a toll on me. It's wearing me down more each day. My phone is bombed with more and more "concerned" politicians and their henchman trying to get just a few minutes of my time to tell me why the other candidate is the devil. I cannot turn on the TV without seeing a politician approving a message that makes the opposition sound anything but American and then promising me all the riches this country has to offer, but only if I vote for them.

Like any good member of the electorate, I try to educate myself on the candidates and issues. This alone is a daunting task. In the monster that is our 24-hour news cycle, the watchdogs and 4th Estate seem to be put on leash and muzzle, especially when it comes to the big network outlets. Bias and partisanship have slithered their way off Capital Hill and into our news. Somewhere along the way, it has become acceptable for journalists and reporters to interject their own opinions and beliefs into a story that is supposed to inform us and let us make our own judgments and decisions for ourselves. For extreme but viewer-popular examples, I give you Fox News and MSNBC. They don't even try to hide it. They are activists for a pre-determined agenda set in motion by their higher-ups.

In the first presidential debate, news outlets came out immediately afterward and said Gov. Mitt Romney won. Hands down. And what was their reasoning for giving him the nod? He talked louder than President Barack Obama and was more animated. It was the visual dramatics of Romney's performance that caused the reporters to hand him the trophy, which in turn influenced many people to agree; not his statements, which were to say the least, inaccurate. I saw very few outlets talking about the accuracy and substance of the candidates' dialogue with objective points of view. They legitimized skewed talk and rhetorical garbage to the American people.

The sense of sight is the most influential in politics. In the Richard Nixon-John F. Kennedy debate, those who listened to it on the radio thought Nixon dominated, but those who watched the debate on TV considered it a landslide for Kennedy. Kennedy looked better. The same thing has happened in this first round for the 2012 election. Romney looked better. It is the media's job to filter out the superficial, but rather they reinforce it. They want the gamesmanship of it. They want a spectacle. That's what sells.

Our news outlets aren't all to blame. So are the viewing, reading and listening public. We accept that this is what journalism is. According to the Society of Professional Journalist's website, there is a Code of Ethics journalists should adhere to - First, find truth and report it. Second, minimize harm. Third, act independently. Fourth, be accountable. These are four things that are in rare supply within our news. We deserve and should demand better.

Jeremy Miller


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