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[P]
Oops! I Voted Again

By Mr. Piccolo in Op-Ed
Thu Feb 22, 2001 at 05:46:07 AM EST
Tags: Politics (all tags)
Politics

Wisconsin had another election yesterday, and being a somewhat disgruntled citizen, I thought it the perfect opportunity to exercise once again my right to make my voice heard. Too bad I had no idea what exactly we were voting on...


What I heard from the news was that the election was a primary for some school and mayorial spots, and that would be some referenda as well, the Holy Grail of democracy. So I went to the polls, hoping to mess with the system somewhat. And I knew, this being a minor election, that my vote would actually count since so few people bother to vote for anything other than President of the United States of America.

What I found when I got there, much to my chagrin, was one list of names under the heading "State School Superintendent", none of whom I had ever heard of, much less knew their positions on any issues, and with no party affiliations or anything to even make any sort of semi-informed decision on the matter.

Therefore, I just picked one.

Turns out I picked the top vote-getter among all the candidates, which totally goes against what I stand for. God forbid I should ever vote for a popular candidate over one who agrees with my views!

Yes, I'll accept some blame for not seeking out what we were voting for before hand, but the news shows I watched never mentioned any of the candidates by name, let alone where we could go for more information on them. Neither did they say which precincts had referenda to vote on.

Isn't that the media's primary function, to give us information on what's happening in our communities? Especially when it comes to something as important as an election, even a primary one? And if I don't know anything about the candidates, what hope does the normal voter have of making an informed decision? For all I know, I and 50,000 others just voted for a superintendent who stands for a school year of 30 one-hour days, or something equally ridiculous!

No wonder our country is in the shape it's in!

I guess there are a couple of questions that come from this:

1. How much responsibility does the media have to inform voters? After all, we can't inform ourselves if we don't know where to look.

2. Why don't the candidates buy ad spots for primary elections, if only to promote themselves for the upcoming general election? After all, at this level every vote really does count, especially if there are 1,000 total (!)

3. Why are so many people content to let someone else have power over them by sitting back and letting them vote? Even at the national level, 25% of the people can determine the Leader of the Free World if 50% of the people don't vote, and it gets much worse at the local level, where it really matters!

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Poll
I vote in
o National General Elections 4%
o Local General elections 1%
o Primary Elections 1%
o Some of the above 18%
o All of the above 40%
o None of the above 17%
o What is this "voting" you speak of? We get along just fine without it! 16%

Votes: 91
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o another election
o Also by Mr. Piccolo


Display: Sort:
Oops! I Voted Again | 41 comments (32 topical, 9 editorial, 0 hidden)
Ads are expensive (4.00 / 5) (#1)
by FlightTest on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 03:00:53 PM EST

Why don't the candidates buy ad spots for primary elections, if only to promote themselves for the upcoming general election? After all, at this level every vote really does count, especially if there are 1,000 total (!)

(a) Because ads are expensive. Aren't you suspisious that congress-critters and the presidents spend much more than the job pays in order to get elected? And they at least have national party backing. Wouldn't you be suspisious of a School Superintendant candiate spending $60,000 of his or her own money for a job that only paid $100,000 (before taxes) a year?

(b) Because you almost can't target ad spots to that small of a populace. If you buy ad time on TV, chances are 99.99% of the people who see your spot aren't eligable to vote in your election anyways, if it's a low-level election. Seems a waste of money to me.

But I agree in principle with you. There needs to be a better way for people to become informed of the candiates and issue for all elections, not just national ones.



Why did I flip? I got tired of coming up with last minute desparate solutions to impossible problems created by other fucking people.
You have a point. (3.00 / 1) (#4)
by Mr. Piccolo on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 03:05:32 PM EST

Well, OK, maybe TV ads are a bit much for primary elections. However, at this level even one ad in the local newspaper or on radio could be enough to swing the balance in the candidate's favor.

Besides, I thought all these people are rich bastards anyway ;-)

The BBC would like to apologise for the following comment.


[ Parent ]
no wonder this country is so screwed up (4.55 / 9) (#2)
by Anonymous 242 on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 03:03:25 PM EST

Yes, I'll accept some blame for not seeking out what we were voting for before hand, but the news shows I watched never mentioned any of the candidates by name, let alone where we could go for more information on them. Neither did they say which precincts had referenda to vote on.
If you starve to death, will you also blame the cow because it didn't die, chop itself into steaks, cook one of them and place it in your mouth?

I bet that a phone call or two (to the existing school board, to the political parties represented in your district, to the leage of women voters, even to any large Church or Mosque in your neighborhood) could have easily helped turn up the information you should have had before going into the voting booth. A democracy takes effort in order for it to work properly. What is the point of a citizen's iniative or referundum if the only people that show up to vote have no clue what the issue is all about. This happened recently in Ohio this past election. We had a referendum on a new "environmental" issue. It passed by a landslide. The bad part was that all the hard core environmentalists voted against it as it was just a disguised measure to allow the state budgetary office to categorize virtually anything as "environmental" and so be able to pay that category out of money earmarked for the "environmental" budget.

Not incredibly relevant, but... (4.25 / 4) (#9)
by Demona on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 03:31:51 PM EST

...that reminds me of an old joke. A fellow walking along a road comes across a boy sitting under a tree, a stalk of grass in his mouth and his hat pulled over his face.

Fellow: "Boy, if you can show me a lazier act than that, I'll give you a dime."

Boy: "Put it in my pocket."

[ Parent ]

I guess there are a couple of questions..... (3.83 / 6) (#3)
by Malk-a-mite on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 03:04:44 PM EST

Well personally I only have one question:

What did you do to inform yourself of the issues and people involved?

Did you seek out anything, or wait for it to be delivered like many people do? Many people have become used to being told what is going on around them by the TV and newspaper. Problem is that leaves the news outlets and whoever can afford the price as the options for information. Not a good combo.

Usualy, I'd agree (4.00 / 2) (#12)
by error 404 on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 03:53:33 PM EST

But as a usualy well-informed Wisconsonite, I only heard that there was an election when my son came home complaining that the voting booths were interfering with his access to some parts of school.

This was an unusualy quiet election. And cripes, it's only been a couple of months since the last one.

I blew it off (even though I almost always vote) because I had no information on which to make any decisions. It is the first vote I've missed since I voted for John Anderson and Reagan won.


I agree with some other people that, as individual entities, no media company was responsible. But the system as a whole failed rather miserably. As a country, we give the media certain priveleges (I'm talking more about press passes, and not slaping a pollster like you would any other stranger that asked such personal questions, than the First Ammendment, but that is part of it too) on the assumption that a free and private press is a good way to inform the population on political issues. Apparently, that assumption is invalid.

What I find more disturbing is that the rabble-rousing networks (email lists, phone trees, etc.) that I'm on didn't get the word to me, either. As often as they bug me to run down to Madison (the capitol of Wisconsin) to protest this or that school related issue, you'd think they could mention the election of a State Superintendent of Schools and a bunch of school funding referenda.

So, what am I supposed to do, poll the system on a weekly basis? American politics is interrupt-driven.


..................................
Electrical banana is bound to be the very next phase
- Donovan

[ Parent ]

voters... (4.40 / 10) (#5)
by klamath on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 03:06:12 PM EST

How much responsibility does the media have to inform voters?
None - the media has no 'responsibilities'. Like any corporation, they should supply whatever the public demands: they have no moral responsibility to force the public to watch broadcasts that they don't want to watch.
Why are so many people content to let someone else have power over them by sitting back and letting them vote?
Laziness, probably. But what is more concering is people like you: who decide to vote, but don't even make the effort to be marginally informed about the issues of the election. When you just choose randomly, you're not even promoting the tyranny of the majority: you're promoting anarchy. If you're not prepared to spend the effort to educate yourself about the election, do not vote.

And then you complain on K5 about the media's responsibility to force people like you to be educated. It's pretty amusing...

Turns out I picked the top vote-getter among all the candidates, which totally goes against what I stand for. God forbid I should ever vote for a popular candidate over one who agrees with my views!
That's interesting. Simply because the candidate is the most popular, who seem to automatically assume that you would disagree with their views. It seems there are at least 2 clases of ignorant voters: those who blindly follow the majority, and those who seek out an obscure, minority candidate: these people seem to think that by disagreeing with the herd, they are automatically demonstrating how unique and independant they are. Because they didn't follow the majority, they're special. But in fact, they're just looking for another cult to join...

Rebel... (3.85 / 7) (#6)
by Malk-a-mite on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 03:08:41 PM EST

"Because they didn't follow the majority, they're special. But in fact, they're just looking for another cult to join..."

The quote that fits with this would be:
"Rebel without a clue."

[ Parent ]

not quite (3.20 / 5) (#7)
by Estanislao Martínez on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 03:25:14 PM EST

None - the media has no 'responsibilities'. Like any corporation, they should supply whatever the public demands: they have no moral responsibility to force the public to watch broadcasts that they don't want to watch.

The public at large are neither the stockholders nor the primary customers of the media. Remember, the capitalist media outlet is a corporation that sells audiences to advertisers, in order to make a profit for its stockholders. The public's interests don't figure in the equation.

--em
[ Parent ]

Uhhh (4.50 / 2) (#15)
by retinaburn on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 04:10:38 PM EST

The public at large are neither the stockholders nor the primary customers of the media. Remember, the capitalist media outlet is a corporation that sells audiences to advertisers, in order to make a profit for its stockholders. The public's interests don't figure in the equation.

But the media must make a profit and to do this they have to have viewers. To have viewers they have to supply material that the most people want (generally, not counting niche markets). You satisfy their demand well you make alot of money, you don't you tank.

So the statement: None - the media has no 'responsibilities'. Like any corporation, they should supply whatever the public demands: they have no moral responsibility to force the public to watch broadcasts that they don't want to watch. is correct. The media has no 'moral responsiblities' to supply news on any particular topic. They serve up what the public demands. Thats why there was/is so much still going on about the Clin-ton sex scandals.

I think that we are a young species that often fucks with things we don't know how to unfuck. -- Tycho


[ Parent ]
again, not quite (5.00 / 1) (#26)
by Estanislao Martínez on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 08:21:34 PM EST

But the media must make a profit and to do this they have to have viewers. To have viewers they have to supply material that the most people want (generally, not counting niche markets).

This is not quite true. In order to compete, the media have to provide the advertisers with the audience the advertisers desire, which is not necessarily the largest audience. Factors like income, age group and so on are every bit as important.

Important example: in the 50s I think, England's newspaper with by far the greatest circulation (I can't remember the name right now) folded. Why? Advertisers were not interested in a paper whose audience was mostly among the low middle and low class, and presented the issues from the point of view of worker's best interests.

Advertisers don't want to attract necessarily anybody and everybody, but mainly those people who are likely to actually buy their product. And they want to be portrayed in a good light-- so they boycott media which they perceive is not furthering their interests with enough zeal. And nowadays, with the big media outlets owned by megacorporations, this is more true than ever.

You satisfy their [the public's] demand well you make alot of money, you don't you tank.

Eh, I think I just refuted this with an empirical example.

The demand that the media has to satisfy is the advertiser's. And the advertiser not only demands that the media attracts a certain type of audience-- they constantly demand that the media cover all sorts of information they produce directly or indirectly (PR, corporate funded think-tank reports), and in a way favorable to them.

The media has no 'moral responsiblities' to supply news on any particular topic. They serve up what the public demands. Thats why there was/is so much still going on about the Clin-ton sex scandals.

Wasn't there a poll when that scandal broke out saying that the public for the most part didn't think that the fact that Clinton cheated was that important, and that the media was making too much of a fuss about it? I might be remembering it wrong.

Anyway, there's plenty of stuff you can mention to people, which the media doesn't cover, which most will immediately say that the media should cover it. TONS.

--em
[ Parent ]

Which comes first ? (3.00 / 1) (#32)
by retinaburn on Thu Feb 22, 2001 at 10:04:08 AM EST

This is not quite true. In order to compete, the media have to provide the advertisers with the audience the advertisers desire, which is not necessarily the largest audience. Factors like income, age group and so on are every bit as important.

I am of the belief that if a media company provides the audiences and the advertisers choose which audiences (thus which media company) they will pay. For TV they pick and choose where they want to advertise depending on which networks have which shows which target a market.

A University Paper will be approached by Music Labels, etc for that market. The Globe and Mail will attract more business geared advertising (of course this differs section to section in any paper).

I'm not entirely conviced that an Advertiser can determine where a media company will focus. Besides the media company saying "hey we need a show to target market x so we can make some money".

I am suprised the 50's newspaper went under, especially the market segment it was written for. Perhaps there were other factors at play, mis-management of funds, not enough advertisers were around to gear that audience, they were charging too much to place ads ...I don't know.

Some advertisers do own media outlets (MS for example) but they are not the sole advertisers though.

Wasn't there a poll when that scandal broke out saying that the public for the most part didn't think that the fact that Clinton cheated was that important, and that the media was making too much of a fuss about it? I might be remembering it wrong.

What people say and what people do are far removed. Sure people said "We've had enough of this Sex Scandal stuff" ...Yet they continued to watch it, over and over again.

I think that we are a young species that often fucks with things we don't know how to unfuck. -- Tycho


[ Parent ]
Scandals... (4.00 / 1) (#34)
by ucblockhead on Thu Feb 22, 2001 at 05:34:33 PM EST

Wasn't there a poll when that scandal broke out saying that the public for the most part didn't think that the fact that Clinton cheated was that important, and that the media was making too much of a fuss about it? I might be remembering it wrong.

No, you're remembering it right, but you are running into a different area of human psychology. People will say that, and believe it, even, but when the scandals hit the papers, they drop the two-bits to read it, if for no other reason then so they can get pissed off at the awful media for printing it.
-----------------------
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]

a further thought (3.00 / 2) (#27)
by Estanislao Martínez on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 08:31:05 PM EST

How much responsibility does the media have to inform voters?
None - the media has no 'responsibilities'.

I think I should remind everybody that the broadcast media operates on radio frequencies which are a public resource, which the government licenses to them for the benefit of the citizenship as a whole. Thus, the broadcast media *does* have a responsibility to act for the greater good.

Of course, with the neoliberal religion that has taken over the US ruling class since the 80s, deregulation and such, a serious plot to make as if this were not true is underway. But the common good is the whole reason these corporations were allowed to monopolize public resources in the first place.

--em
[ Parent ]

pragmatism... (4.00 / 1) (#33)
by ucblockhead on Thu Feb 22, 2001 at 05:27:39 PM EST

Perhaps...But has any society's media anywhere ever worked that way?

Seems to me that they usually work for the people who own them, be it government or corporate.

And this is what I find most dangerous about the attitude in the story, this idea that the media should present the voters with the facts to vote on. Not that the media doesn't have this responsibility. It does. But that voters should just depend on this, without checking themselves.

Even if you could tell me that the media in, say, Upper Slobovia, was wonderfully responsible and presented the voters everything they needed, I'd still think that voters there should do the research to at least ensure this is true.

It is the contrast between what should be and what is. Every citizen has the responsibility to leave the personal private property of others alone. Saying that doesn't imply a recommendation to remove the locks on our doors...
-----------------------
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]
ethics (4.50 / 2) (#37)
by Estanislao Martínez on Thu Feb 22, 2001 at 09:17:00 PM EST

Perhaps...But has any society's media anywhere ever worked that way? Seems to me that they usually work for the people who own them, be it government or corporate.

You invoke the "is/ought" problem: to what degree should the ways things are determine the ways things ought to be?

And this is what I find most dangerous about the attitude in the story, this idea that the media should present the voters with the facts to vote on. Not that the media doesn't have this responsibility. It does. But that voters should just depend on this, without checking themselves.

Well, voter responsibility (here I mean at an individual level and not a collective one) and media reponsibility I agree are in principle independent to a large extent. We should parcel this out into 4 situations:

  1. Responsible media and responsible voter
  2. Responsible media and irresponsible voter
  3. Irresponsible media and responsible voter
  4. Irresponsible media and irresponsible voter.
(Of course, "responsiblity" is not a black and white category, but assume there is a scale in which we can rank it.)

#1 is the ideal one, of course, while #4 is the worst one. #2 is a weird one, IMHO, but if the irresponsibility corresponds of isolated cases that don't reveal systematic failures in the socialization of people, then there's not much to be said about it. (I take the author of this article has been accused of being in either situation #2 or #4).

#3 is the interesting one. If you are a responsible voter, what is your situation of the media is irresponsible? If the media is in general irresponsible, yet you depend on it for information critical to making political decisions, I'd say that is a grave problem. Which brings us to...

Even if you could tell me that the media in, say, Upper Slobovia, was wonderfully responsible and presented the voters everything they needed, I'd still think that voters there should do the research to at least ensure this is true.

You're appealing to the contrast between #1 and #2. I'm interested in #3. Assuming you are a responsible citizen, what do you do if the media is largely irresponsible?

It is the contrast between what should be and what is. Every citizen has the responsibility to leave the personal private property of others alone. Saying that doesn't imply a recommendation to remove the locks on our doors...

But the big question is why what is is the way it is question. Why do you need to lock your doors? This is far from an unavoidable fact-- there have been quiet towns where people don't lock their doors. So I think this is a terrible example to appeal to.

--em
[ Parent ]

Information channels (4.00 / 1) (#38)
by ucblockhead on Fri Feb 23, 2001 at 10:57:58 AM EST

In terms of #3, it is important to remember that the news media is not the only information channel. Especially with the internet, you can dig a lot deeper, read white papers and the like. It is not perfect, and I'd sure as hell rather have situation #1, but not all is lost in #3. Unfortunately, too many of us have become lazy (or we've been trained to be lazy) and act as if anything we are not spoon fed doesn't exist.

An anecdote: When Jesse Ventura was running for governor of Minnesota, I saw lots of complaints that "we don't really know what he stands for". I found that facinating, because the guy had a home page that described his positions on major issues in great detail. (Irrespective of whether or not you like the guy, it shows that just because the media isn't telling you something doesn't mean that it doesn't exist.) That sort of political information is not actually that hard to find, if you look.

I'm not saying this is perfect, and with only about half of the population on the internet, I can hardly claim that everyone has access to this information. But I do think it is a mistake to think that the media (as in the major news media) really controls everything we read or see. It only does so if we let it. Not letting it is part of being a responsible voter.

In other words, I'm not going to pretend that #3 is as good as number #1 or even that it is better than #2. I would make the claim that #3 is significantly better than #4. And given that I suspect we both would agree that the media today is pretty irresponsible, that distinction is important.


-----------------------
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]

US? Not just! (3.00 / 2) (#30)
by Mr Tom on Thu Feb 22, 2001 at 08:29:22 AM EST

>> How much responsibility does the media have to inform
>> voters?

> None - the media has no 'responsibilities'.

Not so in Europe, where certain (typically incumbent) media companies have a 'universal service obligation' type arrangement, where the industry regulator requires them to take on a certain amount of 'socially responsible' programming.

Specifically, in the UK, the BBC has to cater for minority viewers that would be overlooked in the commerical sector, be politically impartial, and meet certain quality standards, amongst others. In fact, all TV stations are required to give a portion of time to political parties. This time evenly distributed - no party can just buy more airtime.

Which seems a fair way of going about things.

However, as the media becomes increasingly globalised (Or, as some would say 'Americanised' [Or is that 'Americanized?' ;-) ]) the potential for regulators to control content will reduce. (Rightly or wrongly, it will.)

But there will be some areas over which a market regulator can retain some form of control, and be able to impose responsibilities on the media.

So yes. The Media has a responsibility, both socially and commerically, to its recipients.


-- Mr_Tom<at>gmx.co.uk

I am a consultant. My job is to make your job redundant.
[ Parent ]

regardless (3.00 / 1) (#35)
by klamath on Thu Feb 22, 2001 at 06:31:59 PM EST

Not so in Europe, where certain (typically incumbent) media companies have a 'universal service obligation' type arrangement, where the industry regulator requires them to take on a certain amount of 'socially responsible' programming.
There is a similar policy in Canada, where I live. The entire idea is immoral, illogical and should be eliminated -- which is what I meant to say in my post. The media should have no moral responsibilities.
However, as the media becomes increasingly globalised (Or, as some would say 'Americanised' [Or is that 'Americanized?' ;-) ]) the potential for regulators to control content will reduce. (Rightly or wrongly, it will.)
How so? What exactly do you mean by the globalization of media? And how will this effect those who force the media to cover certain topics. In Canada, for example, you must play a certain amount of Canadian music if you run a radio station -- in an increasingly global world, the Canadian government has chosen to enforce national identity to force Canadians to listen to music they don't like.
The Media has a responsibility, both socially and commerically, to its recipients.
Here is your conclusion -- where are your premises? You've said that in our current society, the media has certain responsibilities, and I agree: that is a fact. But why should it have these responsibilities? The fact that it is current policy is not a justification.

Also, you've vaguely discussed the idea that the media should be socially responsible; how should they be "comerically" responsible?

[ Parent ]

Media responsibility and USO.. (none / 0) (#40)
by Mr Tom on Mon Feb 26, 2001 at 08:21:52 AM EST

> The media should have no moral responsibilities.

Well, in the case of traditional media, specifically TV and radio, if programming decisions are made on a purely commercial (ie, populist) basis, subcultural voices in society will never be heard. If an audience is so small that it's not commerically viable to make programs for them, should they be ignored? I think not. (NB: This is from a UK perspective, where we have 5 TV stations, and maybe 10 radio stations) Public access TV is not a go-er.

> What exactly do you mean by the globalization of media?

If you go back 50 years, media was essentially localised to a country - back when newspapers were the 'big thing'. Now, I can pick up news from a variety of sources, some based in the UK, some from the States, Australia, wherever. Which is great. But, what happens when all the sources, and the channels through which they are accessed are owned by one company? (Yes, Murdoch, this means you!) Where you might, for instance, want to not report on, say, human rights abuse in China, because you want to be all pally with the Chinese govmt and win the right to be a satellite broadcaster there, with all the advertising opportunity that offers.

In terms of national identity, I don't think that quotas are the way. Although I can see nothing wrong with, say, a state-owned station playing nothing but home-grown music.

> But why should it have these responsibilities?

For the same reasons that all business should take responsibility for their actions. Businesses are not important. People are important. People work for business, own them, are their customers. People are the most important part of any business' operation, and deserve to be treated as such.

> Also, you've vaguely discussed the idea that the media
> should be socially responsible; how should they
> be "comerically" responsible?

I'm all in favour of disinterested media. I don't think that they should be owned by any single entity, be that a government, or a conglomerate. To this end, I think that the most workable market model would be along the lines of a cottage industry - with many different content providers and many channels of distribution.

But the big players in the world's media will be doing their damndest to keep their ad reveunes up, by assimilating and homogenising smaller enterprises. :-/

Umm. I think I've forgotten what the point was.... ;-)

Oh yes: Big companies do not always act with their neighbours' interests at heart. This is wrong. And this is why they need to be more responsible.

-- Mr_Tom<at>gmx.co.uk

I am a consultant. My job is to make your job redundant.
[ Parent ]

re: Media responsibility and USO.. (none / 0) (#41)
by klamath on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 09:31:53 PM EST

If an audience is so small that it's not commerically viable to make programs for them, should they be ignored?
If there is not sufficient demand for a product or service, it should not be provided. If the audience does not want to watch something, what is the point in forcing it on them? The only results will be:
  1. Breeding mediocrity (you have inferior content becoming relatively popular when it is given an artificial advantage). Quite a few popular Canadian bands do fairly well in Canada, but absolutely fail when they go abroad: in Canada, they are given guaranteed air time -- and they just can't cut it in an open market. How is this helping anyone?
  2. Reducing viewership (if the audience does not want to watch something, they won't watch it -- and thus, you'll have fewer people viewing content).
Public access TV is not a go-er.
The unfortunate part about TV is that the cost-of-entry is high; however, with Internet "radio" shows (e.g. GiS) becoming popular, as well as many other mediums for publishing content, I don't think this is a justification for forcing mediocre content on the public -- with their own tax money. If you think there is a small but dedicated audience for a certain type of content, start a viewer-supported service and ask for donations. Many successful clique-ish radio stations are run this way.
Although I can see nothing wrong with, say, a state-owned station playing nothing but home-grown music.
I see something wrong with a state-owned radio station< in the first place.
Businesses are not important. People are important.
Don't be ridiculous. Businesses are important -- in a lot of ways, they are simply the union of a group of people, exercising their right to own property and the product of their work as a group. By unfairly penalizing a company who are impinging on the rights of every investor, and employee of that company. I'd suggest taking a look at Ayn Rand's Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal (or anything else by her) for Rand's argument that capitalism is the only moral economic system.
Big companies do not always act with their neighbours' interests at heart. This is wrong. And this is why they need to be more responsible.
No, there is nothing wrong with this. The purpose of a company in a capitalist system is to make as much profit as possible. They should not be concerned with their "neighbours' interests". Why should a company be act in the best interests of others?

[ Parent ]
Around here, this wouldn't happen. (3.66 / 3) (#10)
by Parity on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 03:48:30 PM EST

We get in the mail, before every election, even minor ones, an 'information for voters' mailing from the town registrar which lists the candidates, summaries of positions, and ballot questions, along with arguments pro and con.

Perhaps you should put out a referendum and/or write your legislator and try to get a similar situation.

The media, btw, has absolutely no responsibility to anything but profit; that's the nature of for-profit companies, and the media is no exception - especially broadcast media. You might have had an article on the election in your local paper, but if you don't read the paper daily, it would be difficult to know which issue that was in. (Non-profit media, of course, has a different purpose in life, and coverage of local politics might well be included in their charter. Or not. Check with your community radio/cable/whatever. NPR, of course, is more interested in world and national issues.)

Parity Odd


Your single flaw (3.50 / 4) (#13)
by finkployd on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 04:02:43 PM EST

Your single flaw is that you seem to think the media can fix this by covering the elections better and providing you with more information. The media is just as biased as a political ad (and more dangerous, since they go to great lengths to convince you otherwise). The only way you can become an informed citizen and actually provide signal in an election instead of noise is to research facts yourself. That's right, it will be a ton of work (in fact, it would be a full time job to do properly) but that is the cost of democracy. If we (democratic/republic countries) are too lazy to at least find out what party candidates belong to and get some idea of their record, and instead rely on the media (be it CNN, FOXNews or Rush Limbaugh) then we might as well just let the media run the country, since we have effectivly given our decision making capability to them.

Finkployd
Sig: (This will get posted after your comments)
Good point (4.50 / 6) (#16)
by hkeith on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 04:20:39 PM EST

I see a lot of ranting here about how it's Mr. Piccolo's own fault for not finding out what he was voting on before going to the polls. While I agree that it is the voter's (rather than the media's) responsibility to learn what's going on, he brings up the valid point that in many areas it is extremely difficult to figure out where to get that information. This is especially the case for younger voters, who may not be familiar with organizations that collect such information (someone earlier mentioned the League of Women Voters, for example). I know I wasn't until very recently (I'm 23).

In western Pennsylvania where I went to college, it was hard to find out *where* I was supposed to go to vote, let alone who the candidates were or what the referenda were. I would ask around for more information, and nobody else seemed to know either. Local elections received so little publicity that I never even knew what day they were happening.

In California where my husband grew up, on the other hand, every household would get detailed pamphlets on every candidate's position, complete with counter-arguments and counter-counter-arguments. While I'm generally against more government programs, this strikes me as a very useful and effective use of taxpayer money, and I wish it were in existence nationwide.

-hk

who did you ask? (3.33 / 3) (#31)
by gregholmes on Thu Feb 22, 2001 at 09:35:05 AM EST

Did you ask someone who might actually know; like your county clerk (in the Blue pages under "County Clerk")?

Or barring that, just call City Hall, operator? Just curious. I'm more of the school that people who don't care to seek out information probably shouldn't vote. Nothing mean or snooty about it; just a practical matter.



[ Parent ]
the media (3.00 / 2) (#18)
by h2odragon on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 04:37:12 PM EST

I just sort of suspect that the election, candidates, and issues were mentioned at some time in a newspaper or two that you have access to... or are they no longer part of the media because you don't read newspapers?

"oh kettle, thou art black"; I don't read any of the 3 or 5 newspapers in my area, either. I'm reminded of another phrase I like to repeat: "Information you haven't paid for is propaganda." Not that non-broadcast media are necessarily the epitome of journalistic virtues; but at least they have some motivation to inform as opposed to entertain.

Yikes! (3.50 / 6) (#22)
by ObeseWhale on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 05:38:38 PM EST

Personally, I wouldn't want the media to be responsible for informing the country about its political candidates (although it already is). Think about it this way... The media is generally controlled by five rich, powerful corporations. If the media were delegated the responsibility of informing the people about the candidates, a bias would be inevitable.

The best way to avoid such a fate is to not look towards the traditional media for information on politics, but rather to have a free, publicly owned channel or two, where anyone can reserve a time in which they can speak, and the broadcast schedule is distributed and printed in the local newspaper. That way, the candidates can freely have debates and such on television, where the vast majority of people can watch them.

My city in Michigan implements this sort of system, and it actually works quite well. Anyone can freely reserve time on the channel, and it really is free, everyone from high school students, political candidates, churches and even the KKK has used it, so there is no bias.

I think what you are looking for is not a mandate upon media for coverage of local politics and such, but rather for the government to create its own media.

---

"The hunger for liberty may he suppressed for a time; yet never exterminated. Man's natural instinct is for freedom, and no power on earth can succeed in crushing it for very long."
-Alexander Berkman
Oops. (4.75 / 4) (#25)
by aphrael on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 08:04:00 PM EST

What I found when I got there, much to my chagrin, was one list of names under the heading "State School Superintendent", none of whom I had ever heard of, much less knew their positions on any issues, and with no party affiliations or anything to even make any sort of semi-informed decision on the matter. Therefore, I just picked one.

I always leave those blank --- the people who care have researched them, and i'm just white noise at that point, if I really have no clue who they are. That's usually the case for local school board and (?!) port district board.

Why don't the candidates buy ad spots for primary elections, if only to promote themselves for the upcoming general election?

Expensive, maybe? And if you're the front-runner and nobody's heard of all your opponents, why bother? Save the money for later on. It's pretty uncommon to have hotly contested primaries in most races, so ...

Irresponsible, etc. (5.00 / 7) (#28)
by rikek on Thu Feb 22, 2001 at 12:52:58 AM EST

A couple quick searches on Google for the WI State Superindendent election got the following sites:
www.cross2001.com
www.elizabethburmaster.com
www.friendsofevers.org
www.jonathanbarry.com
www.gagnon2001.com
That's five out of seven candidates (only the candidates that came in 5th and 7th lacked easily locatable websites).
Now, if using google or other resources on the internet isn't easy enough, the why are you even taking the time to go vote? It seems odd that you took the time to write up a k5 article, when you could have spent half the time visiting the preceding websites (and using the state website's analyses and bios for the remaining two).
Also, your second question is incorrect - there were many more than 1000 votes total in the entire state (around 9% of eligible voters, I believe, or ~300000 rough estimate).
I hope that in the following election, you will either refrain from voting, or better yet, get informed. As this was a primary election on the state level, the state superindendency is now between Elizabeth Burmaster and Linda Cross.

Dump da sucka :P (1.25 / 4) (#29)
by axxeman on Thu Feb 22, 2001 at 03:40:43 AM EST

Since the people who normally post this comment seem to be asleep or something:

-1 not specifically for being not merely US-Centric (it's more along the lines of "what do you mean by 'other' countries"), but for not bothering to even explain the nature of these different types of votes listed for those US-ians who aren't familiar with the system.

Being or not being married isn't going to stop bestiality or incest. --- FlightTest

The race was not invisible (5.00 / 3) (#36)
by bmasel on Thu Feb 22, 2001 at 06:34:37 PM EST

In the Madison market, I caught TV spots for Burmaster for 2 weeks before the primary. Jonathan Barry put a lot of ads on AM talk radio. Evers bought last-minute TV, after getting a check from Madison Teachers.

The daily inks ran stories on the race almost everyday for the 2 weeks preceding the election.

Public television ran a 2 night series with 15 minute profiles of the 7 candidates.

Here's candidates' spending from wispolitics.com , Their free stuff is useful, they also offer a rather expensive paid service with lots of extras.

Official campaign finance reports State Elections Board from the Wisconsin State Govt's spiffy new webpage


  • I am not currently Licensed to Practice in this State.
  • Media responsibility (none / 0) (#39)
    by {ice}blueplazma on Sat Feb 24, 2001 at 07:42:31 PM EST

    The media is everyone who publishes information, be it on the internet, on paper, on the radio, or on TV. Therefore, the media is probably the only way to get information and comparisons of candidates. Sure, you can look at a candidates web site, if they have one. Not many local elections have web sites.

    Often in local elections the only way to get information is to watch the local TV station or radio station and watch debates or speeches. Large news companies don't cover local events.

    So, isn't it always the media's job to provide fair and un-biased coverage? Yes. Does this happen? No. So in local elections it seems that the local station(s) is the only way to get information.

    "Denise, I've been begging you for the kind of love that Donny and Smitty have, but you won't let me do it, not even once!"
    --Jimmy Fallon
    Oops! I Voted Again | 41 comments (32 topical, 9 editorial, 0 hidden)
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