Hope in a Vote

Jaci Clement CEO & Executive Director, Fair Media Council

Jaci Clement

photo by Bob Giglione

So now we wait.

Stuck inside this endless Election Night, what we now bear witness to is a media cycle scrambling to fill time until there’s actually news to report. It’s a combination of rehashing what already happened right alongside commentary of may, could and probably-won’t happen next. Inside a newsroom, this puts intense pressure on the staff to churn out content while remaining in a pounce position until something actually breaks. What that translates into inside homes across the country? It’s a really good time to go winterize your stuff.

Tech Steals the Limelight

If this was any other election, the focus would be on the astounding number of votes cast by Americans. Let’s face it: Getting us up and off the couch is no easy task. That mail-in ballot could sit near the front door for days before the trek to your own mailbox takes place. Getting out to wait in line to vote during a pandemic? You go, America. I may hardly recognize you, but I am now officially a fan. 

What Election Night brought us was an overwhelming testament to how news outlets are completing their transformation into multimedia juggernauts: The interactivity of The New York Times’ website to bring you visuals on the latest data in the least amount of clicks. The augmented reality technology now inside outlets ranging from CBS News to Newsday. The ease at which Facebook put the major news outlets in mobile responsive mode for a rapid and easy side-by-side comparison. The way in which CNN offered up a tailored experience, allowing users to choose which races they wanted to follow — in exchange for a snatch of user data. (Nicely played, BTW.) If you didn’t want to touch and click, ABC News had that covered, with Tom Llamas graciously doing the swiping for you.

Ads Make a Comeback

Grabbing your attention with all those shiny gadgets and geegaws costs a pretty penny, so it’s good news that news outlets were able to command far more in ad revenue — in some cases, nearly double — than the last time we took this trip. Reportedly, CNN pulled in $231,000 and FOX News Channel commanded $160,000-$180,000 per 30-second spot. If, in all of this, advertising is rediscovered for doing what the majority of social media posts only aspire to accomplish, that’s a big Election Night win.

But Nov. 3 seems to be a lifetime ago, doesn’t it? Today’s headlines put the focus on the polarization of a country, one party against another, red state versus blue. There’s commentary on the timing of a presidency being as important as the person who holds the job, as the timing reflects all of the good and the bad of a contemporary America and so, too, the person. And there’s commentary on how America, divided and angry, has simply lost its way.

First, Your Voice. Then, Your Future.

While all of this may be true, depending on your point of view, the most powerful component of the election process is not only being overlooked but taken for granted. It’s the volume of people, a collective uprising,  with a need to be heard, unlike any other time in our history. It’s a situation that seems more suited for artful thinkers, like Kahlil Gibran — “Of the good in you I can speak, but not of the evil” — than it is for political pundits. Because discovering you have a voice is all about finding yourself. And that’s the story of what’s happening in America today.

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