This week I have to say I struggled through The Argument and found it much less interesting than other books and readings this semester — therefore I will mostly focus on the Huffington Post piece, “Media Advocacy: Amplifying Your Argument.” The article, written by former CAP intern Harry Weisbren, was well written and evoked a personal opinion while still instilling knowledge (I can’t say the same for Matt Bai).
I found something he wrote on very topical as I wrote about a related idea on this week’s discussion board. Weisbren discussed how any issue brought about by media can be considered advocacy, and that has a subsequent impact on what does or doesn’t get carried by media outlets. “Even if the media outlet is attempting to be an objective source, their passing along news of the advocacy — while highlighting certain issues and promoting specific sources — has a large persuasive power on its own.” The mention of an organization or issue on a mainstream site lends validity to the topic, which often creates credibility with the organization or spokesperson. If an issue is inherently left or right leaning then pickup by a favorable outlet may be preferred, but positive pickup by a neutral or opposite leaning outlet could offer an increased reputation and value in the topic. That the issue goes beyond party lines.
On the other hand, the content of advocacy issue (one that is leans in a certain direction politically) can have a result on the media outlet itself, making is seem biased in favor or against an issue. The hostile media bias — which refers to the finding that people with strong biases toward an issue perceive media coverage as biased against their opinions, regardless of the reality — is in effect in this case. If Fox News reports on a negative aspect of an issue, the liberals will most likely say “Well of course they said that, it’s Fox News!” No matter what their stance, the opposition will probably attribute their reporting to the conservative bias. This of course is also felt the other way about liberal outlets.
Similarly, this made me think about the media outlets that are not objective (despite what they advertise). Once a media outlet gets pitched they can, in theory, take the story in whichever direction they like. They may write about the positive points of your organization as you’d hoped, or they could instead turn your information around and write a negative piece.
The alternative to media outlets that the internet presents is the millions of other sites/outlets/blogs that could cover an advocacy issue. As was said in the “Virtual Printing press” video, the web has eliminated the gatekeepers. Before, if the newspaper wouldn’t cover your story it wasn’t going to be covered. Now, if mainstream media doesn’t care you can almost undoubtedly find someone who will. Although media is still an important component to advocacy, it is certainly not the only avenue.
Despite my overall thoughts of The Argument, one section I thought more on was the notion of Bill and Hillary Clinton as the country’s beloved “First Couple.” While true that Bill had a nearly 90% approval rating and Hilary ran on the platform of restoration of former ideals, I think the country wasn’t necessarily looking to revert back to the way it was. Instead we wanted change – change that Barack Obama promised.