November 04, 2008

Bated breath

The U.S. Election, after about six billion years of waiting, is finally upon us. It seems to be an almost unbloggable subject now. There’s little left to be said.

It’s been the most fiercely contested election in history – anywhere. Never before has there been such interest in a electoral battle between two people.

The internet’s been a big winner of 2008 – there’ve been few arguments overlooked, barely a minute without another revelation about McCain or Obama’s policies.

But has this been the most transparent election ever?

It’s hard to think so.

To some extent, the media’s role in all of this has been devolved for the first time to the people who upload and comment on videos on YouTube, to college campuses and to the writers on Saturday Night Live.

But there’s been a dearth of hard, investigative journalism since the primaries ended. Perhaps the bitterly fought preliminaries meant there was little to discover about the two candidates once they’d fought off the might of the Clintons or the Christian right.

There were raised eyebrows at some stories – Obama’s choice of church and McCain’s choice of running-mate. But we didn’t learn very much about the candidates that we didn’t already know two years ago.

Some journalists were burned by the 2004 cockup in which CBS News wrongly presented controversial documents as fact. Respected journalists lost their jobs over it.

Maybe that’s put the media on edge in 2008. Also, job cuts in virtually every U.S. newspaper group have made investigative journalism harder. (1) (2)

So I can’t help feeling that whoever wins tonight (or tomorrow), we might need to expect the unexpected. Neither candidate’s biography seems to have been finished yet.

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