Media & Society

Can Too Much Campaign Coverage Cause Heartbreak?

broken heart on a sticky note i i
istockphoto.com
broken heart on a sticky note
istockphoto.com

"Roadside slim" from Roseburg, OR, wants to take a break. And he's not the only one.

Many of you have written—pleaded, really—for NPR to cut back on 2012 presidential campaign coverage. As Frank Range, from Athens, GA, put it, "The election is still 10 months off and we will have to endure a lot of hot air from the candidates. Please don't add to the wind."

Trust me, I hear you. You're not alone.

A survey by the Pew Research Center published yesterday found that 37 percent of Americans feel there is too much campaign coverage in the news. One problem for us is that about the same amount—39 percent—felt that they were receiving the "right amount" of coverage so far this year.

Much of the news media coverage is, of course, "horse race speculation." Most of us, including journalists, bemoan that, but we all want to know who is in first, too. The crowded Republican field does look a bit like the Kentucky Derby. I trust that NPR will continue to give us more substantive coverage as well, which many of you have written to say that you want. Let me know if you are dissatisfied, though it will be easier to judge once we get down to a more manageable number of candidates. In the meantime, here is a tongue-in-cheek solution from "Roadside slim," or at least I hope he doesn't really mean it:

Dear NPR:

We need to talk a little. Our 35+ year relationship of sharing the news of the day both in the morning and at night has been pretty stable, but recently you have seemed rather distant and preoccupied. Our great conversations about life, the universe, and everything now seem strained and only with perfunctory effort. I understand the bright lights, glitz and short term heart stopping lust of election analysis, but it is so fleeting like cigarette smoke, and becomes like warm stale wine and last night's muddy confetti.

I know there are things I can't understand but why would you throw your splendor and talent of delightful, provocative stories of home, culture, science, and far away cultures to the wind and then wallow with the hard, coarse and vulgar election street walkers of the other media, especially when street walking is not one of your best talents?

NPR, I bask in the air waves of both AM and FM stations located in the central part of western Oregon. But recently I have had to turn you off multiple times, both going to and coming home from work because we are just not talking on the same wave link.

NPR, I think you and I need space while you go find yourself. Perhaps you need time to explore the vulgarities enough to decide that is not for you. Understand that I will be fine. Now with the head spinning aroma of audio books and blogs misting from my silver IPOD and savory voices reading from my Kindle, Perhaps I could.... Maybe even... YES NPR, I do think we need space at least till next January after the inauguration. Maybe then we can hook back up. Play well NPR, just don't let the smoke and warm stale wine harden your voice, laughter, and desire for richness in the important things of life.

- "Roadside slim," Roseburg, OR

As always, we'll share your laments, odes and thoughts with the newsroom.

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