Does it matter if a newspaper or station gives greater emphasis to routine coverage of sports, or weather, or crime reports than to the campaign just before an election?
Ben Bagdikian, former dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California at Berkeley, thinks so: “The surveys have always shown that a large percentage of voters make up their minds in the last two weeks before an election.” The stations that gave politics low priority feed apathy and harm democracy, he explains. “So much of TV news is taken up by commercials and weather and sports and what’s attention-getting and titillating that it has produced a very large degree of cynicism, not only about the news, but about the political system,” the Grade the News Advisory Board member says.
“People are so apathetic and becoming so removed from the political process,” says Linda Jue, former president of San Francisco Media Alliance, and another Grade the News Advisory Board member. “Television news (that underplays politics) is contributing to that by their choices of what to cover.”