Perspectives

Media Coverage of Fed. Shutdown Misses Impact on Average Person


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Some observers characterize politics as a game…a sport where there are game plans, strategies, and winners and losers on almost a daily basis.
And, often the news media cover politics as if it were a sporting competition with play-by-play descriptions and color analysis.
Such was the case during the most recent three-day federal shutdown over the spending resolution– a battle between Democrats and Republicans and a battle between the White House and the Senate.
Terminology mimicked sports coverage. Was it the “Schumer Shutdown” or the “Trump Shutdown?” When it was resolved, did the Democrats “cave” or “choke” or did they “win” concessions from the GOP?
While the news media concentrate on covering the “game” of politics, stories about how the shutdown impacted average Americans in the heartland went untold, according to Andrew Alexander, former Washington Post ombudsman and former Washington bureau chief for Cox Newspapers.
Often the media report from a limited perspective or from a Washington D.C. point of view and ignore the ramifications of governmental actions on average Americans. Media does a good job of describing the impacts of actions for the coasts – Washington, New York, Boston, Los Angeles and San Francisco but too often ignore the heartland, where the bulk of President Trump’s base reside, Alexander said.
Alexander is a veteran of covering governmental shutdowns since back when House Speaker Newt Gingrich shut down the government during the Bill Clinton Administration in the 1990s.
Alexander is a former Washington Post ombudsman, a former Washington Bureau chief for Cox Newspapers and an award winning veteran journalist with more than four decades of experience.
During his career, he reported from more than 50 countries and directed major news coverage both domestically and internationally.
Alexander also serves on the New York based Committee to Protect Journalists – This group assists journalists who have been subjected to attacks, arrests and harassment worldwide.
He noted that during the first year of the Trump presidency that the media are encountering, for the first time, a President who by-passes reporters to deliver constituent messages directly through social media. This has left some media confused about how to cover those messages and the President himself – sometimes facing false leads or being misdirected from the “real news.”
Alexander, however, calls some of the investigative reporting done by news organizations to uncover stories of this President’s activities and falsehoods – “magnificent.”
Overall, however, Alexander is deeply concerned about the attacks of this Administration against the First Amendment and freedoms of speech and press. He believes our citizenry needs to be better informed about the fragility of those rights and take appropriate actions to protect them.