Opinion

The Media’s Newest Obsession

Sure, he’s the president of the United States. Sure, his name is almost guaranteed to earn an article a few clicks just for putting it in the title. Sure, following his constant flow of absurd and unprecedented decisions is appealing to many people. But, at the time of writing this sentence, his name is mentioned thirty-three times on the front page of the New York Times’ website. And the San Francisco Chronicle features the word eighteen times on their homepage.

It’s fair to say that he could influence the future of our country tremendously, and his repeated actions are further increasing tension in an already divided country. The public has the right to know about what he’s doing. But that raises the question: When will it be too much? And at what point will it actually start to make it worse?

To understand why this much attention on a single person is harmful, we need to understand why it’s happening. The reasoning isn’t just because he says some unsettling things, but rather, because we got ourselves into an unending cycle and now we can’t get out.

See, when he first started campaigning, he built his platform on irrationality. Who needs to pay for promotions and campaigning when you could just say something crazy and have every major press organization reporting on it in an instant? Who needs to get your name in people’s minds by spending mountains of cash on publicity when you could get it for free by saying things people would never expect? Why continuously argue for your stance supporting the majority when saying less agreeable things grants you the free press that can get your name out there? It sounds like a paradox, but, clearly, it worked.

His success closely followed the principle that stirring controversy would get people to talk about him more. And people ate it up. Every phrase, every speaking habit, everything he did would be talked about by millions as soon as it happened. This gave him an edge over his opponents. When they were spending thousands, or in the case of his direct opponent, hundreds of millions of dollars on campaigning, he would be talked about much more while spending a significantly smaller amount.

People were talking about him, but most of it wasn’t in a good light, right? I mean, he said some awful things about a lot of groups, so his largely negative reputation couldn’t have helped him win, right? Remember the old saying: Any publicity is good publicity. We paid attention to him. We talked about his “absurd” antics. Those of us who might not have agreed with him would research his views to see what all the fuss was about, only to end up agreeing with him and his promises. All the publicity got him more attention, and, as a result, more followers.

This was arguably the number one cause of his unexpected victory. But nothing’s at stake now, right? He already won, so how could covering him excessively do harm? Shouldn’t we know which of his promises he’s gone through with and what promises he hasn’t? Well, yes, we should. But that’s not what’s happening.

The public should know about his major decisions, especially the parties that are directly affected by such decisions. It’s common sense. But most sources aren’t doing this. They’re covering his every action. Every tweet he makes, every oddly pronounced word he says, everything he does is reported by the media. Not only does this feed the trademark narcissism for which he’s infamous, it also clogs the news flow in a way that makes it a chore to find anything else to read about. I’ve gone to the New York Times in hopes of finding interesting articles to read, but have had to go through article after article talking about everything he’s done in the last five minutes.

So, let this be a message to the press, to other journalists, or even anyone with a social media account. No single person is this important. Don’t let the next four years be nothing but a monotonous blur of endless coverage. Sure, he’s our president. We should know what he’s doing in his position. But there’s a difference between reporting on his major decisions and reporting on his every move. All it does is encourage him to do more controversial things while he’s in power, and if it doesn’t stop, neither will he.

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