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Media employs several strategies in distributing information and this information sometimes may be full of propaganda. Press freedom lays the power of cognition in the hands of people. Consequently, people can express their opinions without fear of disclosing the source of that information. This freedom also makes a straight marketplace for ideas and opinions from different quarters of the country. Media is doing a fabulous job by informing citizens about pertinent issues concerning what is happening in the country right now, especially in highlighting the apposite issues in the controversial healthcare reforms. This is crucial issue given the fact that healthcare is an issue that affects all citizens and decisions made should involve all people. As people continue to enjoy this fundamental freedom of expression, one questions the best way of presenting information. How can we decipher good media coverage from bad? What defines good media coverage?
FactCheck.org is an epitome of what constitutes good media coverage. This site delivers quality as opposed to quantity. In principle, media coverage should not be full propaganda. Instead, it should give facts concerning a given situation and at the same time remain non-partisan. It is the work of media to provide quality information to its audience. Media should not take sides on a given issue because audience has the capacity to interpret the information given. For instance, on May 1, 2009, FactCheck.org carried a captivating story on healthcare reforms in America. The story, posted by Robertson and Henig, exemplifies good media coverage. Writers of this story do not go into details of giving cheap propaganda about the issue of healthcare reforms. Instead, they open the article with a summary about a certain advert aired on television by a group dubbed ‘Conservatives for Patients’ Rights’ (Robertson and Henig para. 2). The summary briefs contents of the advert. The writers then go on to analyze the contents of the advert. It is important to note at this point that, the writers use facts not propaganda to analyze this advert. Finally, the writers give a reference list to confirm the authenticity of the facts they give in this context. This constitutes what should be good media coverage.
The big question now remains, who does the best job of covering health care reform? Is it mainstream media or citizen media? To understand this issue clearly, it is important to define these two forms of media. Mainstream media is a part of media contrived to reach masses of people, say a nation. Examples of mainstream media include The New York Times and The Washington Post. On the other hand, citizen media refers to a form of media formed by citizens as the name suggests. These citizens are not professional journalists and they write with regard of their opinions. Examples of this type of media are Hot Air and Daily Kos.
In this context, mainstream media seems to cover the issue of healthcare reforms better than citizen media based on the definition of good media coverage under FactCheck.org. For instance, a story carried in The New York Times indicates some degree of professionalism. It is an article prepared by Hulse and Pear on November 7, 2009. The story analyses how the healthcare plan went through the House. The writers give credit where it deserves. For instance, they reported, “Republicans condemned the vote and said they would oppose the measure as it proceeds on its legislative route” (Hulse and Pear para. 10). Another story appeared in The Washington Post that exhibited professionalism. It is a story by Paul Kane dealing with the healthcare debate. Kane takes readers through a series of the things that they should watch as the debate runs. The writer gives an insight into the core issues. After the introductory part, Kane writes, “Here’s an insider’s guide to the day’s big moments’ (para. 2). This is very educative and the reader will find it easy to follow the proceedings of the debate. Media should be informative and educative not propaganda that lacks authentic sources.
The Wall Street Journal portrays how effectively mainstream media addresses healthcare reforms for the benefit of its audience. Janet Trautwein expounds on the necessity of having a firm individual mandate when it comes to healthcare reforms. The writer gives informed details about the issue of individual mandate.
“With the price of insurance far outstripping the cost of the fine, there will be a compelling reason for many people to pay the fine and only buy insurance when in need of some form of pricey care. In other words, in the absence of a robust individual mandate, healthy, low-risk patients—12.6 million of them, according to a recent study from consulting firm Oliver Wyman—would opt out of the insurance market and wait until they are sick to buy insurance” (Trautwein para. 11).
This example informs and educates readers about something concerning their welfare.
On the other hand, consider a story carried out in Hot Air by Morrissey on October 14, 2009. The heading summarizes the propaganda that follows thereafter. The heading of the story is “Obamateurism of the Day” (Morrissey Heading). This lacks professionalism and points out how partisan this paper is. The article goes on to say, “Barrack Obama and his White House decided to fight two wars this week, and neither of them were in Afghanistan” (Morrissey para.1). The issue here is healthcare reforms not war in Afghanistan. Nothing echoes the unprofessional stand and sheer propaganda spread in the citizen media like a story by PA Blue in Daily Kos. From the introduction, the writer portrays that he is up to criticism other than informing the audience. For instance, the writer says, “The right is worried about a government ‘takeover’.” What does this has to do with anything?
Talking Points Memo, another citizen media stakeholder does not address the issue of healthcare reforms to levels that can match mainstream media. Brian Beutler, however, tries to analyze some facts in the reform and that is commendable. At one point he says, “The biggest players in the health care reform debate often blur together into a swirl of acronyms and policy jargon. But they’re also key to understanding how health care reform has been shaped, and how it’s come as far as it has” (Beutler para. 1). The Instapundit compares to Talking Point Memo in addressing the healthcare reforms. Suderman tries to evaluate the cost of the reform in a sober way. He says, “Democrats had said earlier in the day that the bill would cost $894 billion — just under the $900 billion limit set by President Obama” (Suderman para. 3). This is informative and good for the public.
Generally as discussed above, mainstream media does the best work in addressing the healthcare bill. The strategies that mainstream media employs, comply well with ‘good media coverage.
Beutler, B. “The Seminal Six Stakeholders Whose Competing Demands Shaped Health Care.” TPM. 2009. Web.
Blue, P. “Let’s List Our ‘Freedoms’ Under the Current Health Insurance System.” Daily Kos. 2009. Web.
Hulse, C. & Pear, R. “Sweeping Health Care Plan Passes House.” The New York Times. 2009. Web.
Kane, P. “The House health care debate: What to Watch For.” The Washington Post. 2009. Web.
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Morrissey, E. “Obamateurism of the Day.” Hot Air. 2009. Web.
Robertson, L. & Henig, J. “Government-Run Health Care? A conservative group’s ad implies Congress is on its way to instituting a British-Or Canadian-style health system.” FactCheck.org. 2009. Web.
Surderman, P. “$900 Billion House Health-Care Reform Bill Likely to Cost More than $900 Billion.” The Instapundit. 2009. Web.
Trautwein, J. “Why We Need a Strong Individual Mandate Otherwise, Health Insurance Will Cost Everyone More.” The Wall Street Journal. 2009. Web.