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That is the headline on this column in the Detroit Free Press by Brian Dickerson.

Dickerson says every one of Michigan's congressional incumbents appears headed for re-election and he blames the news media. The press, he said, has virtually ignored the election in favor of crime, sports, the weather, whatever.

The result is an uninformed electorate that knows zip about any of the challengers -- especially Jim Marcinkowski, who is running against GOP Rep. Mike Rogers in a virtual news blackout.

Last year, when U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California and other Democratic Party pooh-bahs recruited him, Marcinkowski looked like the party's best hope in Michigan's eighth congressional district since 2000, when Rogers beat Democratic state Sen. Dianne Byrum by a scant 88 votes.

But Marcinkowski had trouble raising money, prompting the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee to back off its own financing pledges. When the national party started ignoring Marcinkowski, the local media followed suit. As of Thursday, Marcinkowski's name hadn't appeared in either the Free Press or the Detroit News since the August primary.

I would add that this is not a problem unique to Michigan. It's hard as hell to get information about the election without wading through a ton of crap about John Mark Carr or  Madonna's adoption or Paris Hilton.

But a study of TV coverage conducted by the University of Wisconsin News Lab found that broadcasters in Lansing and Detroit allocated an average of less than 30 seconds per 30-minute news broadcast to election coverage during the period between Labor Day and Oct. 6.

That compared with an average allocation of two minutes for crime stories, seven minutes for sports and weather, and 10 minutes for advertising, more of which has been devoted to political ads as the campaign season progresses. Is it any wonder that 30-second spots define the terms of nearly every political contest?

Editors contend that it's more important to find out what "real people" think about the issues than to give candidates a platform. But political parties already pay pollsters millions of dollars to pick voters' brains; it's the electorate that's starved for reliable information about the candidates.

Without print and broadcast outlets dedicated to surfacing new faces and ideas, moneyed sponsors effectively decide which candidates meet the name recognition and fund-raising thresholds that command media attention.

I haven't seen any polling data on Marcinkowski, but I do see from his website that the DCCC is finally taking an interest in his campaign.

Maybe the rest of us should too. This is Marcinkowski's website. I'm sure he can use a few bucks. I'm sending a contribution. My way of not only supporting a good candidate, but of sending an "up yours" message to the smug media barons who would rather feed us celebrity gossip than news.

Oh, and perhaps Marcinkowski should be added to the Netroots list of candidates.

Originally posted to quaoar on Tue Oct 17, 2006 at 09:38 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Hopefully (6+ / 0-)

    the DCCC re-discovered this race in time.

    Breaker 1-9, Is anyone there? C'mon back truckers and talk to Teddy Bear.

    by quaoar on Tue Oct 17, 2006 at 09:41:47 AM PDT

    •  I (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I think it's sad in this day and age of all of the technology and information at our fingertips, that it's so difficult to get traditional media coverage of local races.
      And honestly, I'm to blame as well, in that my focus and attention is on more glamorous races like Governor and US Senator.  I'm sure if I had dug deeper I would have found more info on more local races.

      I'm going to put this into NASCAR language so you understand: All you have to do is turn left. So why do you keep turning right? -Dick V. Electric 6

      by Stomp 442 on Tue Oct 17, 2006 at 11:12:37 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  MAY I .. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    keepinon, quaoar

    REPRINT your diary over at No Quarter?  Larry johnson is Jim's friend, and we're always looking for solid stories on him.  You've done a great write-up here, and so I'd just like to cross-post it with credit to you.

    SusanUnPC at gmaildotcom

    Susan in Port Angeles (my cat)

    by SusanHu on Tue Oct 17, 2006 at 09:45:45 AM PDT

  •  Thanks for this post... (0+ / 0-)

    I've been contributing and doing some volunteer work for Jim, and as you say, status quo has a definite leg up when it comes to election coverage. The local daily in our county prints anything remotely related to Rogers. I almost expect to see "Rogers Polishes His Shoes" as a headline article soon. Of course, they have been predictably silent over his close professional association with Marc Foley. (Both were Majority Whips in the House.)

    Celebrate our differences; define our core values; sell them to the independent voters; retake the Congress.

    by keepinon on Tue Oct 17, 2006 at 11:21:19 AM PDT

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