ALISA CAIRA (GRADE 11)
For over a year now, the United States has been been dominated by the 2016 presidential election. As I write this on the night of November 7th, a mere day away from the election results coming out, I reflect on the turbulent year we have had in news coverage. And as I look back, scrolling endlessly through CNN, reflecting on my own knowledge, and thinking of the current events that have impacted me, I realize an unproportionally large amount relate to the election. This overwhelming exposure is unfair to all the other newsworthy events that have gone unnoticed due to overcoverage. Because of the election, too many noteworthy topics have completely slipped by the public’s awareness.
I, for one, have noticed a shocking decrease in my knowledge of both foreign and American news unrelated to the election. Many of the sources where I get my news from most, such as watching the news before school or checking the CNN app during my day, have become unreliable for anything other than coverage of politics. When there are different stories, I obviously find them for the most part interesting and worth the read. However, when I just opened up CNN and it took five articles just to get the name “Trump” out of the headline, I have trouble continuing to put in the effort to find news I’m interested in. Similarly, when I have twenty minutes before school to watch the news and only one minute is devoted to anything other than Hillary’s email scandal, it becomes hard to find the will to tune in at all.
The unfair amount of coverage even spreads to the places where we are not specifically looking for access to this information. Every television channel is dominated by ads supporting one campaign or another. Every social media platform is littered with articles, images, videos, comments, and rants supporting one candidate just as quickly as they take down another. Tonight, Clinton even endorsed an admittedly hilarious geofilter allowing the user to wear her iconic hairstyle and pantsuit. Tonight, my Facebook feed is filled with last-minute profile picture filters emblazoned with Hilary’s logo. Tonight, my aunt has shared seven different Hillary-related posts. Tonight, I have seen four different angry comment threads in a fierce debate over which candidate is better fit for this country. When will this all end?
And please, don’t answer this question by saying tomorrow.
Don’t get me wrong. I completely understand the passion involved in all elections throughout the years, just as much as I understand the necessity everyone feels in choosing the right person to lead our country for the next four years. However, why must this process of choosing the next president begin when the current president still has ¼ of their term left to go?
Such intense campaigning and coverage has reached a point where it is only hurting the public rather than helping them reach an educated decision. Getting to know a candidate is incredibly important, but a large part of the coverage provided barely relates to the nation’s issues and the actual policies candidates are looking to impose. Frankly, I don’t need another story about Clinton’s email server, nor do I need one about whatever offensive thing Trump has said this week.
For myself and many other Americans, the ridiculous amount of news coverage provided to the election has turned us away from it rather than held our interest. We assume we will know what is coming next due to the repetitive nature of what has come thus far. Why would I tune into the news when I no longer care about what Trump said at his last rally? Why would I click on a video of Hillary endorsing the same message I’ve known her to endorse since over a year ago? I have stopped scrolling through my news apps because I expect I know what I will see. It seems like months since I last had a political conversation where I learned something.
Overexposure to the election has turned it into nothing more than a background noise that we have all muted. However, this intentional avoidance should not be the case. Elections are vital to our nation’s democracy and our own futures. The problem with them only arises when their amount of coverage makes them appear overbearing rather than a key piece of a democracy. For the future, we must look to encourage our news outlets to move away from the frustration they unconsciously place in politics. We must look to make sure that three years from now, all of us citizens do not leap too far forward into the election of 2020. Rather, let us take a step back, and let us remain aware of the world’s news and refuse to be limited by a scope as narrow as the presidential election.