WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Covering the Candidates

Mar 8, 2016

This week the Shop Talk panelists discuss how reporters are being treated as they try to cover this year’s presidential campaigns.

Many times journalists are herded into press pens (this is nothing new), limiting their access to the candidates.  Sometimes they get into physical skirmishes, such as the photographer who was choked and slammed to the ground by a Secret Service agent at a Trump rally.

Panelist Jasmine Crighton said a lot of political rhetoric portrays reporters as being the bad guys and that their stories are full of lies.  She said that seems to play well with audiences even though reporters are fact checkers. 

Panelist Jonathan Ahl said political events are becoming more staged.  As that happens, reporters are being granted less access.  He said citizens are also being given fewer chances to interact with candidates as rallies become more carefully staged.

Ahl said perhaps reporters should stop covering political events and instead spend more time digging into the claims made by candidates.  But Crighton pointed out this year’s rallies have been good for TV ratings so it is unlikely news directors will stop sending crews to cover them.

Panelist Rich Egger said people in power portray journalists as being bad guys because they don’t want anyone checking on them. 

Egger also said TSPR Southeast Iowa Bureau Chief Jason Parrott noted before the Iowa caucuses that the candidates with the best poll numbers were the least likely to take questions from local reporters.