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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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    Experts Discuss The Media’s Changing Role In Elections

    On Thursday Oct. 16, The Graduate School, The Graduate Student Organization and the Press Club of Long Island hosted their annual colloquia.

    The colloquium focused on the influence of the press on political campaigns and elections.

    The event featured several experts in the fields of journalism and politics answering questions from moderator James Klurfeld, a Stony Brook University journalism professor.

    While the focus of the evening was the influence of the press on political campaigns, many of the speakers spoke about how the press has changed since when they first started working with the campaigns.

    “?You would wait with suspense until 6:30 when Dan Rather or Tom Brokaw came on? In the 80’s that began to change because CNN came along? you could see the story and see it emerge,” said speaker James Pinkerton, a political analyst and columnist who has appeared regularly on Fox News Watch and contributed to Newsday and The Huffington Post.

    Many of these changes in the way the media works are key components of how the press influences the campaigns. Today’s candidates are kept away from the press, one speaker said, and therefore the relationship between the two has changed a great deal in the past years.

    While talking about the relationship between the press and candidates, political consultant Mike Dawidziak said, “If a candidate came out to address the press and his zipper was down in past years they wouldn’t report on that.

    “Today could you imagine it not making it into the paper,” he continued. “It comes down to a simple lack of trust.”

    When it came down to the question of whether or not the press can make a difference in an election, most of the speakers said yes, depending on the year.

    Harvard professor Elaine Karmack used the election in 2000 as an example. “It was a hot economy [in 2000]. What was run was a completely trivial campaign.

    “What people talked about was who was the nice guy? you could make the election [about] who you wanted to have a beer with.” Kamarck served as senior policy advisor to the Al Gore campaign.

    Turning to the 2008 election, she said, “You can’t make this election about who you want to have beer with. This election suddenly turned from being a more normal election to an election about an economic crisis.

    “The press just doesn’t make a difference because the people are seeing a reality.”

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