Critical media review

Rationale

The news item chosen for analysis is presidential candidate, Mitt Romney’s wealth. This was an ideal theme because the presidential nominations are an important part of the country’s current events. It is insightful to know about how Americans receive information from their media sources concerning various campaign issues.

It may have been reasonable to consider other ‘typical’ themes like healthcare and education, but these do not reveal much about the American psyche. They are also not as controversial and divergent as the topic chosen. Most analysts acknowledge that American voters are some of the most well-informed in the world. Additionally, they pay attention to some of the most unlikely qualities of a particular candidate.

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This interest can be seen from the way comments about Romney’s wealth have been linked to his campaign efforts. One’s net worth is an important issue among the electorate in this country, so the analysis will reveal how the information is dispensed in various media sources.

Method

The research started with newspapers, blogs and other articles that covered the election. At this point no clear theme or focal point was evident.

Any issue could prove to be useful in the analysis; some of the topics noted in the media sources include “Obama’s foreign policy apologies”, “Leading candidates in the Republican nominations”, “Candidates’ health care plans”, “Tax increases after the country’s general election.”, “Republican candidates’ economic plans”, “Oil subsidies and their effects on the consumer”, “Gay marriage law in Maryland”, “Tax decisions in congress and many more”. In order to decide on the right topic, it was necessary to settle on those issues that affected all American citizens; therefore, a topic such as the gay marriage law in Maryland was automatically scrapped off since it was geographically confined.

The concerned topic also needed to have momentum, or it needed to represent a matter that would yield immediate results. Issues such as tax decisions in congress and oil subsidies were all interesting, but they had a long-term orientation. Therefore, political news that focused on the campaign were the best bet. Not only did these events receive wide coverage, but they captured the very essence of the country’s political landscape.

Some of the sources that were useful in this investigation were blogposts, newspapers, and articles from non-profit organizations on the internet. Newspaper articles were the largest sources because they dedicate a lot of their media space towards any particular issue. As the research continued, it became evident that many authors thought that Mitt Romney’s wealth was important. However, they all depended on various facts or assertions to make their conclusions. Furthermore, these media sources treated the impact of his wealth differently.

The common perspective that emerged was that Romney did not know how to talk about his wealth (Hunt 2012, A4). Additionally, most sources believed that the issue could hurt his campaign rather than strengthen it. Several articles cited campaign utterances to support their assertions and they attempted to place those assertions in context. None of the articles attempted to present the issue in black and white as the topic had many subtexts around it.

How the different genres approached the topic

Blog posts generally focused on recent events that pushed this issue into the news. It is likely that the writers chose such an approach because they have limited space on their websites. Few of them looked into the history of presidential candidates’ wealth in depth. Large circulation news prints, however, provided greater detail on the history and the context behind the issue.

Commercial media sources such as the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal were different from not for profit sources like NPR because they were more blunt in their statements. When quoting some of the things that Romney said in campaigns, NPR was subtle about these (James 2012). The newspaper articles quoted him directly; they also preferred to start with those controversial elements.

What the media sources revealed about the Romney’s wealth in the campaign

In the analysis, it was clear that Mitt Romney is one of the wealthiest presidential candidates to grace the country’s political scene (Goodman 2012, p12). Nonetheless, he is not the only affluent presidential candidate or politician. Other individuals have used their affluent status to their advantage; however, Romney does not fall in this category. The candidate’s inability to use his wealth tactfully could ruin his campaigns.

The media sources revealed that focus on specific utterances and campaign statements can alter the way a candidate is perceived. They also illustrated that when the historical context of a certain political topic is known, then it may cause readers to prioritize important issues. By relating Romney’s wealth to his campaign strategies and comparing to it to other politicians, it was possible to realize the complexities of political headlines.

Whether it was surprising

The coverage of this topic did not come as a surprise because the American population is a highly sensitized public. This is why authors must provide greater context for every topic. It was also not surprising that commercial sources were blunter than the not-for-profit organizations because they need to grab attention.

What I learnt

American media culture tends to focus on very detailed components of politics. Some issues that are quite personal can take centre stage. Furthermore, the electorate’s opinion about a certain theme can alter their perception towards the candidate. All these emanate from the choices made by media sources.

References

Goodman, R., 2012. How Romney’s wealth can shake up American politics. The Washington post: p 15.

James, F., 2012, Romney’s wealth ‘gaffes’ seem less about money and more about him, weblog. Retrieved from http://www.npr.org/blogs/itsallpolitics/2012/02/27/147510189/romneys-wealth-gaffes-seem-less-about-money-more-about-him

Hunt, K., 2012. Romney’s wealth proves rich vein for rivals’ Wall street journal, 21 Januray, A4.

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