Staff Editorial: Sensational Reporting and Political Activism

Throughout this past election cycle, Americans have witnessed a rise in sensational reporting. This election was so aggrandized that it often seemed like spectacle rather than crucial nationwide changes. With a continuous flow of news coverage of each candidate’s respective scandals, the media has brought to the forefront certain issues and let others sit in shadow, creating what many have termed a ‘post truth’ age. Now, as our new president-elect prepares to be sworn into office on Inauguration Day, Americans will continue to experience the onslaught of news reporting. There already has been and will continue to be an overwhelming amount of coverage on every detail of the ceremony, from the performers and the president-elect’s controversies, to current and future protests by not only important political figures but also the estimated 400,000 people congregating in DC this weekend to protest the event.

While news coverage continues to spotlight the Inauguration, there are other newsworthy events occurring that should not be ignored. Last week, the Senate Republicans took the first major move to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) by voting at 1:00 a.m. to pass a budget blueprint that could help them gut the ACA. On Friday Jan. 13, the House Republicans followed suit with a similar budget resolution. Yet, the sensational reporting on Trump’s Inauguration or the meanings of his tweets seem to overshadow some other important governmental moves, such as the actions of Republicans in Congress. Many of the recent legislative decisions are laying the groundwork for swift changes that the Republican majority in the incoming Congress wants to push through. In other news, President-elect Donald Trump has yet to choose the next Solicitor General for the United States, and he is also behind on filling his Cabinet’s positions, both of which can and will have a significant impact upon American government.

Considering the ways in which television and news coverage have become like reality television, with the importance of the Inauguration placed on spectacle and ratings, some are considering not watching the ceremony as a form of protest. However, this protest is notably passive and creates no significant action. A better way to deal with dissatisfaction about the current political situation is to take an active route in participating in local government. Take an interest in local politics and inform yourself with information from reliable news sources such as CNN, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.

It is important to remember that with the coming Inauguration, it is likely that sensational news coverage of the president-elect will continue. However, Donald Trump’s presidency will not be defined simply by Donald Trump himself. Trump’s burgeoning Cabinet continues to be filled by politicians who will have a significant effect on the way we as a country move forward. A Republican Congress headed by Mike Pence will not only change many existing legislatures but also the way legislators themselves operate. Changes are happening and will continue to happen that will come to transform American life as we know it. Therefore, during this time, let us all be reminded that what appears on the front page of the news, while still important, may not be the end-all of the day’s important events. Donald Trump’s Inauguration signals an era in which we all must go beyond passive political participation by thinking critically about all of the different types of news that we receive each day, participating in local politics, even in something as small as a campus-wide election, and calling your local representatives.