This morning I heard something very discouraging on the radio. The presidential election is still one year away.
Twelve more months of dreary election coverage.
I have two suggestions for the news media.
1. From today until October 1, 2016, limit election coverage to one story per candidate per week.
2. Instead of reporting the non-issues and personal attacks that originate with political candidates, or gearing most of the news to issues that affect a relatively small portion of the population, report proportionately on topics that affect the majority of human beings who occupy this country.
Example: Colony Collapse Disorder
Miles of column inches—print and digital—are devoted to LGBT issues. According to a Gallup poll, only about 3.8% of the US adult population identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.
So far as I know, no polls have been conducted to discover how many Americans, adult and juvenile, are accustomed to eating almonds, watermelon, canteloupe, cucumber, pumpkin, zucchini, apples, avocados, apricots, cherries, plums, peaches, pears, raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries, but I’d guess that the percentage of the population is greater than 3.8%.
Just about everybody is affected by the collapse of managed honey bee hives. The media should be reporting daily on this very grave issue.
Example: Child Abuse and Neglect
Abortion is another issue that gets plenty of press coverage. I understand the passion that this issue generates and it’s not my intention to imply that opposition to abortion is unreasonable. However, every year in the United States, about a million of the children who have been allowed to be born suffer from abuse and neglect. Of those who die as a result of this treatment, about 80% are under the age of six; about 40% are under the age of one.
Let’s have daily coverage of what’s being done to protect children from twisted adult caretakers.
Example: Food Insecurity
At this time of year, the papers are full of food drives for Thanksgiving and Christmas, but what about the rest of the year?
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), 15.3 million children under 18 in the United States live in households where they are consistently unable to access enough nutritious food necessary for a healthy life.
In 2014, the US Census Bureau, reported that 15.5 million, or approximately 21 percent of children in the U.S., lived in poverty.
Hungry children of school age can get some nutrition by way of free school lunch and breakfast programs, but what is being done to ensure that preschoolers are receiving the food necessary to their physical and intellectual development? Surely this is an issue that merits more frequent reporting than what Donald Trump thinks of uppity women.
About 36 million adults in this country can barely read. Sixty-six percent of the fourth graders who take the NAEP reading test score below “proficient.” This in a country that spends more than $600 billion per year on primary and secondary education.
Surely this is a topic that merits daily coverage. Why is it that half the five-year-olds who begin kindergarten become fluent readers and half of them do not? Could it be that the established method used to teach reading works with children who come to school from homes in which reading is common and does not work with children who come to school from homes lacking in verbal stimulation?
Could it be that university departments of education are wedded to notions that have little to do with the reality of US society in 2015?
I can think of dozens more issues that deserve wide press coverage because they affect millions of people. But I know from experience that the media will continue to pay them a little lip service from time to time and devote most of their reporting to the election campaign for the next twelve months. What a discouraging prospect.