On February 8 the Chicago Tribune’s Clarence Page stopped by for a lunch time chat with Columbia J-school students and talked about covering race during political elections. Click on to see notes from the event.
On Newt Gingrich and the Debates
– “Food stamp” press
- Coded word (associating African Americans with food stamps even though they’re not the group that uses them the most)
– It’s not what you say that counts, it’s what you hear.
- Words can spark ideas or have different meanings.
– Politicians never answer your questions, they answer their own questions
– John King asked Gingrich about his marriage issues and Newt got very upset
- John eventually backed off a bit, but Page says that he should’ve held his ground and continued his questioning
– People like conflict (brings up ratings)
- Newt tends to get the crowd all worked up into a frenzy
- For a debate on NBC, the audience was told not to respond
- Romney considered to have beaten Gingrich in that debate
- CNN likes crowd responses (for ratings), but Page says that it distorts political discourse
- Political campaigns will always astonish and surprise you- that’s what new is
- News is what’s going on that’s not supposed to
- Debates are good because they help us learn more about the textures of the country and what people are thinking
– Make yourself indispensible
- There are always people employing, but what is it about you that makes you valuable?
– Know your history- history is about narratives
- Think about what happened in the past and how it relates to the future
– Tell a story
- “Dear mama”- act like you’re talking to your mother and then you’ll end up narrating a story
– Perceptions are 90% of politics (e.g. most people consider themselves middle class)
– Levels of rhetoric, antipathy, and sensitivity have really increase
- Media has a responsibility to fight against it
– Still need reporters who have credibility as unbiased and disinterested (not uninterested)
- Goal of the industry is to be disinterested