It’s an understatement to say that the presidential election of 2020 merely added to the absurdity that has filled the year. Although the campaign between President Trump and President-Elect Biden has come to an end, the effects of this election are longstanding. This is accredited to the way that information comes across on all media platforms. The results of the election are a combination of the popular vote of the U.S. citizens and the Electoral College, but the media plays a large role in the election process. When an election is underway, citizens rely on the media to relay important information to them at all times. Because there is a vast amount of information and content being produced by media outlets, it’s sometimes difficult to distinguish what is reliable and true.
Leading up to elections, the media served as the place for people to gain insight into our country, candidates’ platforms and the pre-election forecasts. Closer to the election, media outlets release stories to attract as much attention to their platform as possible and retain these viewers through the election. A current phenomenon of “fake news” increased in popularity in 2020 with regards to the presidential candidates.
It’s no secret that every media outlet has a different viewpoint and plays a different role. Some outlets act as watchdogs, whereas others serve as campaign platforms, open forums for debate and discussion or public education tools. Each of these channels are important in relaying information and helping citizens form their own opinions.
Simply put, if a media outlet functions as a “watchdog,” they aim to share the failures and successes of the given candidates equally and hold each candidate to their campaign promises. This allows transparency in the election and theoretically should give credibility to the news outlet. This election season has proven that any extreme opinion of any news outlet may cause viewer alienation. We saw evidence of this when Fox News’ viewership slipped in the final weeks of the 2020 presidential campaign.
Each candidate has the right to campaign and share it through the media. This is an equal right and in our society, marketing is a common strategy to gain supporters. To ensure equality there are laws that require fair coverage. Although fair coverage is aiming to be met by the national standards, that does not mean that all consumers will see all the coverage being released by each candidate. This being said, it’s evident that the more someone is exposed to a particular campaign, the more likely they are to research that candidate and form strong opinions.
Finally, the media serves as a forum for political candidates to debate and discuss important issues and topics. This is necessary for citizens to hear candidates’ positions on national policies. In some cases certain media outlets will lean towards a particular candidate or party, highlighting certain facts and ultimately partaking in media bias. While reporting facts about a campaign does not equal media bias, overexaggerating or misinterpretation of the candidates does. It’s easy to believe things posted from seemingly credible media outlets, but to avoid “fake news,” fact-checking should be a common practice among not only editors and other news organizations but even citizens. In a society consumed by technology, the media is necessary to strengthen presidential campaigns and provide citizens with the most relevant information. Because the election is a huge interest to the nation, the flood of information increases and the credibility of it declines.
So, in the land of the free, remember to check sources and be cautious of the news that you are consuming! We also advise consumers to make it a practice to vary what you read and watch on a regular basis — consume as many viewpoints as you can in order to create your own informed opinion.