If you are like me, you are probably suffering from election exhaustion. It seems like everywhere we turn the media is bombarding us with information, speculation, and drama surrounding the 2020 election. The media can be a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde especially when it comes to political coverage. I want to share with you three important things to consider when faced with media coverage of an election. The following points may help bring some perspective on the news this election season and help you sift through what you are hearing and seeing to make your own decisions.
Top 3 Considerations on the Media in Election Seasons
1. Be Selective
The media on the whole is Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Traditional media can foster transparency, act as a fact check, and help empower the public. Yet, on the flip side the media, especially social media, can be unreliable and spread false information. It's also important to remember that election coverage can be slanted because reporters will often choose which candidate to cover which may mean you are getting only one perspective, so consider the source.
2. The Role of Social Media
A recent Pew Research Center study showed that 62% of Americans get their news from social media outlets rather than traditional print and broadcast media; as I've said the lines of truth are sometimes fuzzy. Social media is heavily filtered so you only get information based on an algorithm that tries to decide what information you want to receive. This means you may not know that you are subtly being influenced by previous searches on the internet as a whole. Candidates have a lot more influence on the identity they want you to see on social media where as traditional media is more balanced.
3. The Image Influence
Let's not forget that a picture is worth a thousand words and those images have a subconscious effect on our opinions and choices when it comes to political candidates. However, those pictures are often altered before they are posted on social media and so we may or may not be seeing an accurate portrayal of the candidate. Even seeing a picture we know has been doctored can make a subtle emotional imprint on us and effect our decisions.
Presidential Elections can be really stressful and the media as a whole has a large influence their outcomes. At the end of the day, with the advent of social media and the 24-hour news cycle, we need to be even more selective when using the media to help us make decisions on which candidate to support. And when you are desperate for relief from the hysteria perhaps my election season serenity prayer will help!
"Grant me the patience to accept the politicians I cannot change, the courage to make clear informed decisions, and the wisdom to know when I am being force fed bunk."
Stay tuned for next week's segment on the markets and elections.