Further to my post from the previous weekend, featuring Michael Gawenda (and me) bemoaning the nature of election campaigns and coverage, Margaret Simons has some suggestions in today’s Crikey on “what might be some more useful ways of covering an election campaign”.
• Boycott the staged, and boycott the campaign bus – or at least send only AAP. Certainly this would take courage. There is always the risk (increasingly slight) that you might miss something important. But by devoting the bulk of journalistic talent to stage managed events, we are, I think, in any case missing something bigger and more important.
• Report politics as though it actually matters, and citizens have a stake in the issues and the result. Shun cynicism (but retain scepticism). Shun reporting that suggests politics is only a spectator sport. Be extremely sparing with reporting that treats the election as a horse race, and concerns itself only with who is ahead, who is up who and why, and who “won” rhetorical points.
• Go hyper-local. Only in the last couple of weeks of the campaign did the mainstream media begin to pay serious attention to the marginal seats where the election will be decided. But rather than interviewing a few residents who may or may not be representative, what if serious journalistic talent actually based itself in the electorate long term, and covered the issues of the suburbs and regions with the same seriousness of journalistic purpose devoted to the nation – never forgetting (indeed, striving to illuminate) the connection between the local and the national.
• Go pro-am. A larger topic than can be covered here, but there are some good thoughts about when citizen journalism is and isn’t useful in this blog post by Mark Bahnisch.