Food For Thought:
I'm a journalism major, so naturally I wanted to write about problems within the field of my discipline. I wrote my first paper on gender and race issues in dealing with the media coverage of missing persons in the U.S. So for this paper, I wanted to write about something equally as controversial. I started looking through the news and I saw the face of an old white man dressed in a suit with the headline: Governor Used State’s Money to Visit Lover.
I started to wonder why this was news--for the betterment of society and the obligation of the media to expose the injustices of their government or for the sake of selling newspapers?
This case could be justified as the former. But in other countless cases such as Elliot Spitzer, Bill Clinton, John Edwards--or even further back to John F. Kennedy or Thomas Jefferson--is it right to have their personal affairs plastered on the front page of newspapers if it has nothing to do with their policies?
There are many questions and routes I could take in analyzing the classic case of the political sex scandal:
1. Is it fair to put their personal lives in a public forum?
2. Why is the public so interested in the personal lives of politicians?
3. Is the media sensationalizing these scandals solely to sell newspapers?
4. Does the politician forgo privacy by being elected by the public into the public's eyes?
5. How do these scandals affect the polls or running campaigns?
6. Why do sex scandals lead to demise for some and are swept under the rug for others? And does this have anything to do with the media?
7. Is media coverage different if the affair was with an intern? A prostitute? Another male? A young teen?
8. Is the public's response different if the affair was with an intern? prostitute? another male? etc.
9. Where in the newspaper are these types of stories placed and are they really worthy of front page news?
10. What kind of message does the media send if a civil war in Africa that claimed millions of lives is buried in the paper and a governor using money to visit his lover is front page news?
..and most importantly...
11. Where do you draw the line between tabloid and hard news?
There are many paths to explore on this topic...which one should I choose?