November Elections Spur Urgent Calls for Pro-Democracy Coverage

by | Sep 30, 2022 | News

As the 2022 midterm elections approach in November, mainstream media have been covering the leadup to the vote with usual commitment to framing Republicans and Democrats equally, even as a subset of Republicans attack the integrity of elections to gain power. This attempt at “balance” stands at odds with journalists’ commitment to report the truth in the face of this threat to democracy.

In a recent twitter thread, the account Fix Media Now by the Media and Democracy Project explained the urgent need for pro-democracy 2022 election coverage, and demonstrated some guidelines for how responsible journalism can present the direness of election politics.

The account encouraged journalists to make threats to democracy clear by covering Big Lie-fueled attacks on election legitimacy and voting rights and eschewing the both-sidesim that equates viable candidates with anti-democracy republicans.

To protect Americans from disinformation, Fix Media Now emphasized the importance of direct language over euphemism. It implored journalists to replace “election denier” with “election liar,” and employ direct language to instead of the meaningless “election skeptic” and “polarizing topics.”

It explains, “Euphemism from media is creating a nationwide permission structure to ‘deny’ elections, as if there’s something legitimate to ‘dispute’.” Along this line, journalists must avoid uncritically repeating MAGA election lies, and instead report with the broader context of the MAGA Republican strategy to undermine democracy.

The organization also tells journalists to show that elections matter in part by covering them with more gravity than a sports match. This entails informing voters by providing substantive coverage, rather than spewing predictions and polls.

Headlines like the New York Times’ “Is the Democratic Midterm Surge Overrated? Why Republicans Can Still Win the House and Senate.” exemplify both the sports-like coverage that trivializes the importance of elections and the attempt at journalistic “balance” that equates liars with real candidates.

More reporting should celebrate election workers, Fix Media Now said, as they allow democracy to function by accurately conducting voting. Many of these workers are quitting following targeted MAGA attacks, and it has become more important to report them with humanity to prevent abstraction and demonization.

It’s also necessary to maintain moral judgement and common sense to confront “obvious lies and bigotry” that go along with MAGA Republican strategies like voter suppression.

As the Media and Democracy Project outlined in a sign-on letter, these 2022 midterms aren’t a “traditional election between Democrats and Republicans – they are a contest between those willing to uphold our democratic system and those who are telling lies to win at all costs.”

The Media and Democracy Project is asking journalists for their promise to make threats to democracy clear and protect Americans from disinformation. These goals are vital to pursue as the November elections approach in a month.

 

Photo by Elliott Stallion on Unsplash.

 

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