Giving voice to the extreme

The media’s been abuzz over numerous Republican presidential candidates’ refusal to sign the Family Leader’s Marriage Vow, which advocates for elected officials to remain faithful to their spouses, oppose gay marriage rights and fight for lean government economic policies, among other key issues central to the Christian-conservative movement.

The articles I’ve read on the issue have been well researched and well sourced, such as Jennifer Jacobs’ Des Moines Register report, which gave a voice to Family Leader supporters, Republicans who disagree with his pledge and Democrats (who really disagree with the pledge). However, I question whether the amount of coverage the issue has received is proportionate to its true importance.

Vander Plaats is an extremist, hands down. Yet the media allows him to to turn the spotlight on his agenda through its continued coverage of his and the Family Leader’s activities. But does a presidential candidate’s refusal to sign the Family Leader’s marriage pledge really have news value? Jacobs’ article mentions that candidates regularly avoid signing pledges so I’m left to ask, is Vander Plaats’ celebrity status as a polarizing conservative the main engine driving this story?

As a student journalist, I welcome all thoughts or opinions. What makes Bob Vander Plaats or the Family Leader worthy of the coverage they receive?  As a journalist, how do you balance the responsibility to report the news with the fact that some newsmakers are lone extremists?

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2 responses to “Giving voice to the extreme

  1. “What makes Bob Vander Plaats or the Family Leader worthy of the coverage they receive? ”

    Nothing. The reason he gets coverage is today’s journalism has lost its moral compass. It’s all about the sensationalistic quick soundbite that panders to the dumbest television viewers. And everyone else follows suit like moths to a flame.

    • My only question is whether or not it’s really as simple as saying the media, in this instance, has lost its moral compass. Obviously Bob Vander Plaats led a campaign to oust three Supreme Court justices that, like it or not, was newsworthy. However, where do you draw the line on coverage after that?

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