Posted by: meredithalawrence | October 29, 2012

A Little Insight Goes a Long Way

As Del pointed out in her post, and as was illustrated for us the New York Times Magazine piece “Feel the Loathing on the Campaign Trail” and the Seattle PI’s blog post about the Seattle Times’ controversial funding of an ad for the Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna, in the case of political elections, the news media primarily covers and focuses on major candidates and in that manner limits democracy by not paying attention to alternate candidates.

Similarly, as illustrated in the New Yorker’s article “The Lie Factory” which recounts the rise of Campaigns, Inc., the non-journalistic media can certainly be used to quell the democratic process and scare people into a pre-determined opinion.

But, in so far as the democratic can be defined as giving voice to many different opinions, as we saw in Muthukumaraswamy’s discussion of crowdsourcing in her article “When the Media Meet Crowds of Wisdom,” there are ways in which the news media can increase the number of voices it portrays. For instance, across the nation, some news organizations are starting to use “Public Insight Networks,” which are databases of common-public sources. These networks serve as a way for journalists to contact and often cite sources from the general public who might not otherwise be represented. For instance, this OPB article ( about young voters, uses sources found using OPB’s Public Insight Network. By reaching out to members of the public through such pathways as Public Insight Networks, does the mainstream media work to foster democracy?

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