Mainstream media coverage of SOTU 2014

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Written by Fernando Aguilar @fjaguilarr

Edited by Sammi Davis

Screen Shot 2014-02-03 at 6.32.16 PMRegarding SOTU 2014, I must say that it reminds me of a lot of elements we find in Hollywood events, but without the red carpet of course. What got my attention was that journalists were interacting with the politicians with a very personal approach.

It is clear that there are certain individuals that spend their time in Washington D.C. covering what the politicians do and therefore, they establish a relationship with them. I believe that is fine, but the point is that journalists become public figures too, with a certain degree of fame that could get go to their heads. This might make them feel powerful; the same power that politicians experiment with, and that sometimes overwhelms them.

Mainstream media in the USA should hold their politicians more accountable, but when channels are owned by the same politicians, this is very unlikely to happen. In the end, the result is what Guy Débord calls the Society of Spectacle which is, precisely, the title of one of his best books: La Société du Spectacle.

The french author describes the way societies care more about having rather than achieving, transforming human interaction in the that way. Another key element explained by the author is that in those societies, appearing is more important than being. In a sense, appearing to know something is the way to go, instead of really knowing having full consciousness of the actions.

It appears to me that mainstream media in the USA covers only the stories they are interested in covering, instead of really holding their government accountable for acts of corruption. I am not saying that politicians do not face justice, it happens, but there are a lot that get away with it.

In the end, SOTU 2014 could be easily perceived as part of the Society of the Spectacle, as many other events mainstream media covers and advertises. This happens not only in the USA, but around the world


2 Comments on “Mainstream media coverage of SOTU 2014”

  1. Fernando, I think that you made a keen observation here. Much of what you said mirrors the troubles in the Italian media. Berlusconi, who is the top political figure in Italy, rose to power through his ownership of many different media organizations. It is concerning for the independence of journalism.

  2. Fernando,
    The State of the Union was certainly a spectacle! I agree with your assessment of the media that covers Washington D.C., however, I don’t think there is much that distinguishes them from most other journalists today. What should be serious journalism and reporting too often resembles sensationalized fodder for tabloids. As a result, I also think it is necessary to be conscious of this ‘Society of Spectacle’ and be weary of the biases that journalists bring to their work. We must all make a commitment to be conscious of our actions and the information we put out into the world. Great post!

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