Election 2011: Reporters need to think beyond coalition

The Globe and Mail’s Barrie McKenna writes that “In the absence of real
debate about serious issues, the false premise of a coalition has filled
the campaign vacuum….So why are the media biting so willingly and
hungrily on Mr. Harper’s tactical line?”

“In two words: It’s easy. It’s a story with tension. And in the Twitter age, the media, pundits and political spin masters are all looking over their shoulder, in real time, to assess what issues and trends are gaining traction. It’s a very powerful echo chamber, where a single issue quickly dominates debate.”

National Post columnist Scott Stinson doesn’t agree with McKenna’s analysis that media is missing the real story. “First, the coalition stories generated on Sunday were hardly Harper softballs,” he writes. “The questions spoke to whether Mr. Harper’s main theme was hypocritical, or duplicitous, or both. As I say: worth asking.”

McKenna spoke with Ryerson j-school interim chair Suanne Kelman, who warned that  “Reporters live in a rarified world and they can become quite separated from ordinary voters. The media have to watch out or people will get fed up and stop reading.”

Meanwhile, issues that the media should be covering — the war in Afghanistan, the economy, the real cost of prisons and fighter jets — are being largely ignored in election coverage, the Globe notes.