Media?s coverage of elections examined by veteran reporters

Aston Tan

Retired newsman David Dow and Los Angeles Daily News columnist Mariel Garza met with students Tuesday during a question-and-answer session that discussed the shifting role of media in elections.

Topics were wide ranging with the speakers touching on issues like the growing prominence of political commentators, the evolution of media and news coverage and the Bradley effect on polls.

‘Most people don’t want to be known as racists,’ said Dow. The CBS veteran described the tendency for certain people to tell pollsters they will vote for one party, but cast a different ballot during Election Day, commonly referred to as the Bradley effect.

Dow said because of this poll results can be doubtful in determining the final victor in elections.

Garza too questioned the validity of the Bradley effect.

‘The Bradley effect is overblown,’ said Garza, who also teaches part time at California State University, Northridge. She added that the fundamental values of each party will ultimately determine the votes.

‘People will stick to their parties,’ said Garza, ‘in the end he is still a democrat, he is still a socialist ‘- the other issues are so stark.’

Garza also talked about the shifting trends within print media coverage during the current election period ‘- from newspapers to the Internet.

‘Internet readership is exploding,’ said Garza. ‘This is the most important election of my life, and certainly my career’hellip; people just have sheer interest in every word we write.’

The speakers were also asked their thoughts on the emerging trend of political commentators like Bill O’Reilly and Lou Dobbs, and the rising popularity of private blogs.

‘People like opinions’hellip; more so, they like opinions that are affirming,’ said Dow, attributing the trend to people who often choose information that is parallel to their own beliefs.

Garza agreed, and cited how readers often have trouble discerning between fact and opinion.

‘I am appalled, I lament the advent and popularity of some blogs,’ said Garza, she reiterated Dow’s sentiment that people liked opinions which were ‘affirming.’

Garza then juxtaposed the works of blogs and commentary to her current position as an editorial writer.

‘If there is going to be bias, why not be upfront and honest about it?’ she said.

Kristianna Gross took away several lessons from the talk.

‘I learnt that the news in general is becoming more opinionated,’ said journalism major Kristianna Gross. ‘Whether it’s good or not time will tell’hellip; from trends you can tell it’s becoming more opinionated.’

Speaking about her impression of the lecture, the 19-year-old sophomore added, ‘even if you don’t agree with it you can take stuff away that can help you in the future.’