Making Election a Sports Coverage

reymar-latozaFew days ago, while I am having my dinner in a ‘carenderia, I’d heard a group of five young people talking about some local candidates running this 2013 elections. They were sitting one table apart from my left side. Though they were trying to tone down their voices, but I still clearly recognized what they were discussing. It caught my attention because their conversation turned out like an exciting sports event. Imagine how people react in a cockfighting event, it is so thrilling if who’s gonna win, or a boxing match, and this time not of our favorite boxing stars, but of political candidates running for certain positions. They were highlighting some personal issues and it seemed like the negative allegations thrown by one political team to the opponent team adds up to their score, the more damaging issues, the more points earned,  what a breathtaking episode of basketball game it is with a human drama of competition. What was more disappointing was, they had mentioned two local radio stations which provide the exhilarating coverage of sports events in political arena.

Next week, the whole country will once again celebrate the highest peak of democracy – the 2013 National and Local Elections. And the question now, how ready are we to vote? Based on my observation, Instead of knowing political candidates and distinguishing their capabilities to lead, what most have memorized is the formula of who is losing and who is winning according to the candidates’ method of campaign (the more money to make a campaign trick, the more chances of winning).

Aside from people’s failure of their responsibility to know the candidates more than the issues being attached to their names, media is also taking advantage of their influence to  dictate rather than making people intelligently decide whom to vote. According to the book written by SHEILA S. CORONEL, YVONNE T. CHUA, AND ISAGANI DE CASTRO JR.- Cockfight, Horserace, Boxing Match: Why Elections are Covered as Sport, authors stated that stories on conflict, competition, and controversy dominate. Surveys get a disproportionate share of the coverage while the concerns and aspirations of voters rarely find voice. Spin doctors, PR people, and campaign strategists-fully aware of the way in which elections are covered and the types of stories journalists prefer-tailor their media strategies accordingly. They play to the media’s propensity for conflict and intrigue, feeding stories, news angles, and spins that they know will be reported. Thus, they often end up setting the news agenda, steering the direction of election coverage, and monopolizing news space and airtime for their candidates.

Social responsibility will always come next to the profit, the ratings and sales should come first. the study of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism last 2004 showed that National, and most especially the local media focused on the personalities and cover what candidates said and did in campaign sorties. They neglect the candidates’ background, platform, and the substantive issues of the campaign.

I’m pretty sure, if you ask the voters now, about the political candidates they would most likely remember the sleaze and sensation, lovelife, gossips, the attacks made by candidates against each other , the allegations fueled by the media, other  and more of candidates ‘personal lives. It is quite disturbing how the mass influenced by the media. The country’s democracy is at stake if people are injected by the lethal faults of media.

However, we do not disregard the effort of some of the news organizations to empower the public and energize their capacity to make informed choices in the elections.

It is undeniably that during election season many are shifting into sports writing, or sports commentator. The job is more fun, the stories are exciting and saleable. The superficiality is always admired by many.

Well, I am hoping that at the end of the game, sportsmanship will reign. GOOD LUCK MAY 2013 ELECTION.