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'We've lost our balance, lost our way'

DISCUSSIONS | May 25, 2006

Karl Schoenberger

1995 Nieman Fellow, San Jose Mercury News (on leave); UC Berkeley Human Rights Center (visiting scholar)

The single most important thing the U.S. media could do to improve our work in 2006 would be to make the extra effort to do issues-oriented campaign coverage. We say this every time a big election comes along, but we don't have the focus – or the courage – to carry it out. We follow the money, not the ideas, and let the candidates buy the mind space of the reporters and editors as well as the TV watching electorate.

The quality of our democratic system has eroded with the quality of our election campaign coverage. Our integrity and independence is compromised to the point where we'd rather cover – and give credence to – a minor distraction like the Swift Boat Veterans than dig for critical views on the Iraq War. We've lost our balance, we've lost our moorings, we've lost our way. Hard-nosed election coverage could be our redemption.

This item is one of several responses to a survey of former Nieman fellows. Click here to see the main story.

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