Guest Post by, Marcia Kreifels
Talk of political advertising has been abuzz with the recent midterm election. When it comes to ethics in political media, attack ads often take the topics spotlight. Blaring attack ads, shaky news coverage, super PAC agendas and more mix together to create a muddled mess of ingredients in the American political media. But is this a healthy stew of media coverage, or a disastrous cocktail of misinformation and negativity? Similar to how our bodies need nutritious, healthy food to function at its best, our country’s democracy needs a healthy amount of informative political media to operate efficiently. Consuming too much political media “junk food,” such as attack ads or fear mongering, is going to have a sluggish affect on our voting population that, over time, could lead to more weaknesses throughout our country’s government. In recent presidential elections news sources suggest that only 60 percent of the eligible voters will make it to the polls. Alongside this, anecdotal evidence indicates that people feel overwhelmed and frustrated with the political media. After a while, election season becomes a time that people dread because the aggressive campaigns are too negative. The voting population is getting junk food media shoved down their throats discouraging them from thinking positively about elections or their civic duty. Too much political media junk food can cause the consumer to become sluggish and apathetic, but just like real junk food, our country just can’t seem to quit it, no matter how unhealthy it may be. There’s a certain “sugar rush” to being part of the winning party in a campaign season, but the crash looms in the distance as our politics cyclically flip-flop between political parties. Still, healthy political media won’t solve all our country’s problems, but it’s a good step towards a stronger government. If we could feed the politically hungry with accurate, fact-checked content, quality policy information and clear reports on candidates’ standings in key issues without all that negative junk, we would be creating a healthier political environment for voters to strive toward. Like eating a healthy diet, an unhealthy splurge here or there won’t destroy everything. Just like a few bad ads won’t destroy democracy, but the country needs to be actively working towards healthier options. As voters, Americans need to take a closer look at their political media diet to reduce the mindless consumption. Coincidentally, tips for dieting with food can be tweaked to create dieting tips for political media.
- Check the labels: Know what source the news is coming from. Is it from the candidate, a news source with a liberal or conservative slant or a super PAC?
- Consume a variety: Make sure to get as many perspectives as possible when researching a candidate.
- Don’t overindulge: Consuming too many political ads or sources may be hard to digest. Find the right amount to consume based on personal needs.
- Eat locally: Pay close attention to local politics and how political decisions may influence you personally.