The Rapidian

Media literacy: Distinguishing political coverage

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From The Rapidian staff

Each week, a Rapidian staffer will publish a piece related to goings-on at The Rapidian, developments in the world of citizen journalism and tips for making the most of the site. Click here for past editorials.

From The Rapidian staff: Right around fall time every year, the city is caught in a maelstrom of election coverage. There is so much news coverage pouring out of papers, screens and in 1s and 0s that it can be difficult to wade through the type of political coverage.

Here are a few quick tips:

  • If the reporter admits a bias at any point, read the content as an opinion.
  • Media endorsements can be hard to come by and editorial staffs are generally very careful in their selection. After reviewing information gained from coverage, editorial staffs make endorsements. Media groups are aware of their readership and have the best interest of their constituents at heart. Despite all the vetting, consumers should still read this as an opinion. Regardless whether media groups lobby for or act on behalf of their own interests, many media have commercial and political relationships.

On The Rapidian:

  • The Rapidian is an open news platform for Grand Rapids content. While reporters on The Rapidian might submit opinion pieces of their endorsements, The Rapidian itself will never endorse candidates.
  • In regards to well-rounded election coverage, the editorial team would love to see all parties and candidates represented on the site. If you notice a gap in coverage, be aware that as a user-generated platform, coverage is at the whim of the candidates' communication capacities and reporters' interest in political processes and candidates.

These are just a few basic tips from The Rapidian. How do you consume media coverage about elections and politics?

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At established, commercial newspapers candidates often stop in to talk to the editorial staff and provide information on their campaigns. That's another obstacle the Rapidian's volunteer reporters have to overcome. It's not as easy for them to get in contact with candidates unless they have personal connections or they know the right people to talk to. Without a direct contact number, the only information provided is often just a PO Box number on each candidate's filing records.