Imagine a world where news outlets only reported the news from California and New York. When asked, their stated reason for avoiding any news from Virginia is that less than five percent of the population lives there so it’s not considered newsworthy.
Imagine a world where news outlets only reported the news about Ford and Chevrolet and dismissed any news from Porsche because that company had less than fifteen percent of market share.
Of course such imaginings are preposterous as who can imagine a news outlet basing their coverage not on what is newsworthy, but instead on on some arbitary number.
However, this situation is exactly what occurs in the world of political coverage where candidates who are neither Democrats or Republicans appear to be routinely snubbed by news outlets because the alternative candidate does not reach some threshold of poll number as determined by the outlet.
I live in Virgina’s 10th Congressional District and while I know there is a candidate for the House of Representatives from the Libertarian Party, William Redpath, you would hardly know that from looking at our local paper’s coverage. The cover of the October 15 issue of The Indie has a picture of the candidate from the Democratic Party, Jeff Barnett, with the sub-heading:
“This Week: The Challenger
Next Week: The Incumbent”
next to a picture of the current Republican office holder, Frank Wolf.
There happens to be another challenger, Redpath, but I guess The Indie doesn’t think he’s newswothry enough for a cover photo. Inside, the paper devotes three pages to Barnett (pages 3, 4, and 6) and buries a profile on Redpath on page 12.
In the next issue of The Indie (October 22), the cover again slights Redpath with the sub-heading
“This Week: The Incumbent
Last Week: The Challenger”
Again highlighting the “fact” that Wolf only has a single challenger.
News outlets aren’t the only ones guilty of ignoring those who don’t have a D or R after their name. Redpath claims he was excluded from a debate being held October 12 by the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce.
So why do organizations shun reporting on third-party candidates? I have no idea because it would seem that having more choices would make for more interesting and entertaining stories (just look at Jimmy McMillian and the “Rent Is Too Damn High” Party in New York).
My best guess as to why those in the mainstream don’t want to give a voice to an alternate party is that if they do, the alternative might actually win (just look at what happened when Reform Party candidate Jesse Ventura was given a spot on the debate stage…he became governor).
All I’m asking…give me more stories about alternative candidates and less stories about Lindsey Lohan.
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