September 22nd, 2004

i am not a stuffed tiger.

through a lens darkly

Joshuah Bearman has a really good post about issue that's making me most queasy about the upcoming election: the media and their irresponsible interpretation of the campaign through polls. This quote from UCLA political science professor Lynn Vavreck about incentive incompatibility gives the whole thing a feeling of hopelessness:
... The candidates, the public, and the media all want different things. USA Today and CNN and Newsweek — their incentive is to sell magazines and newspapers. What voters want is information. And candidates want coverage. And those things often don’t line up. Civic journalism would be nice. But the media want to sell their products ... [josh bearman]
Not that I think this is a particularly "new" problem, but it's still unsettling. Being out of town and not particularly watching the news, my main impression of the election was that it was pretty much over. This, admittedly was through the lens of a friend with conservative leanings who was citing the latest, most damaging poll numbers and through a news cycle of hurricanes and questionable documents.

I guess that the only consolation is that it's in the media's interest to show the race tightening, because how else are they going to move product for the next month?


speaking of polls: pollkatz