Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Pomp-ing Up The Volume?

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

When you watch a candidates’ debate on television, do you feel your questions are answered? Or do you feel more like you’re watching a series of live campaign ads? The problem may not be as simple as the integrity of the candidates, it might be the format of the debates themselves.

Dante Chinni, a senior associate at the Project for Excellence in Journalism, writes in a June 12 column in the Christian Science Monitor that the televised debates between presidential hopefuls, which were once such a useful tool for voters wanting to compare candidates’ stances on important issues, have become a cumbersome mess full of showmanship and resembling “talent shows” more than actual discussions about the issues.

Chinni contends that this is largely attributed to having more candidates staying in the races than ever before. The “compressed schedule” means candidates “with a prayer and a few bucks” aren’t necessarily forced or encouraged to drop out if they feel they won’t place well in the race. This also leaves voters with more choices to make than before. All of this makes the debates very important, as the actual discussions between candidates offer more insight than individual campaign materials. But it also becomes a problem: with more candidates on the air, and more issues to discuss than ever before, each candidate gets less individual air time. Does this process serve the electorate well enough? Do these factors inhibit the thorough media coverage of the election process?

(Read Chinni’s full column here.)

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