Posted by: delphine criscenzo | October 28, 2012

“This is what Democracy sounds like!”

This election season, only one news outlet helped me make an educated decision on which candidate best reflected my beliefs. Democracy Now! streaming live on weekdays and podcasting at www.democracynow.org aired 4 “Expanding the Debate” specials, one for each presidential and vice-presidential debates. The concept is pretty simple, but genius! They played the presidential debates live but paused after Obama and Romney answered the questions and gave third party candidates present in their studio the same amount of time to answer the same questions. As Amy Goodman, host of the show, often says “this is what Democracy sounds like.”

The reading for this week only reminded me of why I do not open a newspaper or watch mainstream news outlet during election time. I often feel frustrated like Mark Leibovich about the discourses coming from both main parties. I am also shocked at the open endorsement of candidates by newspapers which Joel Connelly denounced as well. In a post “Citizens United” era, I was not even surprised to hear from the Pew Center that “journalists are a shrinking source in shaping the candidate narratives.” Though Jill Lepore provided more background information on how the campaign process became a business, I did not learn anything new about the way political messages are being controlled and often distorted to the advantage of one candidate over the other.

But what about the other candidates? How about the four third party candidates on the ballot this November? It appears that the choice has been made for us, that the media and lobbying companies have predefined what our choices are. This does not sound democratic!

How, as journalists, do we work to foster democracy?

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