Why Politicians Learn to Ignore the News Media

A recent development – politicians ignoring the media – has put journalists hum:

Last weekend, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Senator Marco Rubio, both up for re-election this fall, headlined the Florida Republican Party’s annual Sunshine Summit. Other high-profile Florida Republicans were also present at the Hardrock Hotel & Casino event, which this year tried something new: After seven years of being open to the press, “he limited the media that could go there attend, giving access inside the room to right-wing media who give the governor positive coverage,” Politico reports, adding that traditional GOP figures have been “largely replaced by conservative social media influencers with followers massive who recently moved to Florida and have become some of DeSantis’ most vocal supporters.”

According to the Tallahassee Democrat, many local and national mainstream media were unable to obtain press accreditation, including the Miami Herald, Politico, Florida Politics, The New York Times, and the Washington Post. A Florida wire service, the The Wall Street Journal, and Business Insider were among the few mainstream outlets allowed to cover at least parts of the weekend.

Charlotte KleinWill Republicans shut down the press in 2024?” at vanity lounge (July 26, 2022)

Some media professionals agree with this. To The Federalist, Jordan Boyd writing, “When reporters bother to try to talk to Republicans, they’re more likely to act in bad faith.” (July 27, 2022)

Others are not happy:

Most top 24 contestants are media makers in their own right, hosting their own podcasts or, at a minimum, building strong social media feeds. The rise of podcasting has been a huge development. An aide to a 24-year-old potential contestant told me he was far more interested in appearing on Steve Bannon’s podcast than sitting down for an interview with a mainstream publication.

David FreelanderWhy Republicans stopped talking to the press” at New York Magazine Intelligencer (July 25, 2022)

But let’s talk about it. Why Do Successful Politicians Think They Can get away with ignore the mainstream media? Could they be onto something? :

Mainstream media has probably become much less relevant to political success. On the one hand, as Gallup reports, the public lost confidence in traditional media to a historical assess:

Americans’ confidence in two facets of the news media – newspapers and television news – has fallen to historic lows. Only 16% of American adults now say they trust newspapers “a lot” or “somewhat” and 11% trust television news. Both readings are down five percentage points from last year.

Megan BrenanMedia trust ratings at record highs” at Gallup (July 18, 2022)

Not only that, but the public is less and less interested in the production of the news media. Of Axios,we learn,

Engagement with news content plunged in the first half of this year compared to the first half of 2021 and in some cases fell below pre-pandemic levels… engagement with the news content across all platforms declined significantly in the first half of 2022.

Neal Rothschild, Sara FischerNews engagement plummets as Americans go offline” at Axios (July 12, 2022)

Another factor is that, as the Pew Research Center noted a week earlier, many American journalists don’t even try anymore perform in the middle of their audience (a conventional traditional approach):

Journalists in the United States differ markedly from the general public in their views on “two sides” – whether journalists should always strive to give equal coverage to all sides of an issue – according to a recent study by the Pew Research Center. Slightly more than half of the journalists questioned (55%) declare that on both sides not still deserve equal coverage in the news. In contrast, 22% of Americans overall say the same, while about three-quarters (76%) say journalists should always strive to give all sides equal coverage.

Naomi Forman-Katz and Mark JurkowitzAmerican journalists differ from the public in their view of “bilateralism” in journalism” at Pew Research Center (July 13, 2022)

One result of the journalist approach is that readers who don’t hear both sides are less likely to learn new things, reducing the value of the media for public debate. In turn, the journalist ends up writing for people who only want to hear one side. Then he doesn’t learn the other side, doesn’t grow in understanding, and is ultimately a less useful source.

So, overall, politicians can make a sound decision if they choose to contact potential voters directly.

Next: The Role Mainstream Media Really Plays in Our Society Today

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