Focus Should Be on Facts
September 20, 2012
Jackie Gingrich Cushman
The challenge for modern-day campaigns is that the rapid speed of the news cycle ensures that new news is created on a daily basis, even when it is not really news. Blame the hunger for something novel and fresh that can eat up time on the 24-hour cable news channels.
Think of today’s news organizations as insatiable beasts whose ravenous appetites constantly need more and more news bites, and more analysis about those news bites. The desire for more content for their viewers and readers means that they deem everything new to be newsworthy, or at least newsworthy enough to justify filling space on a webpage and a few minutes on the cable show.
This drive for fresh news creates an environment that is more hospitable to covering momentary gaffes and comments rather than presenting any deep analysis of facts. It’s fast and easy to repeat or replay a comment, and then comment on that comment. It is not unusual for a news outlet to comment about the comments about the comments. No research required, no fact-checking required, simply an opinion about someone’s comments, followed by an opinion about the commentator’s comments.
Think of this as the journalism equivalent to lunchroom gossip about who said what to whom. It’s fascinating, it’s interesting — but is it important?
It’s harder and more time-consuming to analyze facts and figures and to come to a conclusion about the meaning of said facts and figures. This requires time, effort and focus. It requires analysis rather than emotion. It requires resources, in time and money.
It can be, frankly, a bit boring.
It’s like a term paper or research report. It requires sources and evidence. By definition, it is driven less by emotion and more by logic and facts. The conclusions have to stand on their own and must be supported by the facts.
Audiences thrive on emotionally charged topics and vignettes. That’s why reality TV shows can be so captivating. In-depth analyses are not as emotionally charged, which may reduce their appeal to audiences.
Quite a few of us have fallen asleep or at least daydreamed when a classmate was presenting a research report. But no one would fall asleep during a good gossip session in the lunchroom.
The gossip tidbit this week is a video of Romney speaking at a May fundraiser in which he said that 47 percent of the populace was “dependent upon the government” and that his job was to not worry about these people. Since he was speaking as a candidate to people who were paying to attend a fundraiser, the comments should be taken as such: remarks from a candidate to funders, not from a president to the people of America. (Remember that candidate Obama talked about people clinging to guns and religion.)
Instead of focusing on the gaffe of the day, we, and especially the Romney team, should be focusing on the facts and real analysis.
Here are a few that merit our attention:
President Obama, 42 months into his term, has yet to pass a balanced budget. According to the Federal Reserve website, U.S. debt has increased 51 percent — from $10.6 trillion to more than $16 trillion.
U.S. gross domestic product annual growth for the second quarter was 1.7 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce Bureau of Economic Analysis website. Unemployment exceeds 8 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics website; more than 17 percent of those who want to work full-time are either not working at all or are working part-time.
According to the U.S. Census bureau, 28 million people were receiving food stamps in 2008. That number had soared to 46 million people at the end of June of this year, an increase of 18 million people, a 64 percent increase.
Those are the facts. These facts should be driven into every talking point that the Republicans have over the six-plus weeks left before the election.
Here’s my analysis: President Obama has had his chance to lead our country, and I am not satisfied with the results, (see facts above).
My hope is that there will soon be change in the White House.