Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Not a politics site, but...

... travelling in New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Washington, DC, last week, I was encouraged, really, by the apolitical consensus that seemed to prevail, despite all the media coverage of the "presidential race." We saw very few bumper stickers ("Republicans for Voldemort," spotted twice, was a favourite), lawn signs, or T-shirts for either McCain or Obama. I suspect most American voters are like Canadian ones. Despite the endless American campaign, they will focus their attention and make their choices in the last couple of weeks before election day. Good for them.

But, overnighting in a small south-central Pennsylvania town just off the Turnpike, we drove through the streets of a quiet, leafy, traditionally charming community and saw just one political sign. It said "Obama '08." Last spring rural Pennsylvania provoked Barack Obama into musing about rural people clinging to God and guns out of bitterness. Well, someone in Bedford did not take it personally.

I never go to the United States without being struck by what a great country it is, but boy, they really are poorly served by their news media. The networks seem incapable of resisting fluff and sensation, and USA Today, the paper we found at our hotel room doors every morning, is just television with more wood pulp.

Update: I've just read Janet Ajzenstat noting how she has abandoned CBC for National Public Radio. Funny, a week in the US produced the opposite response in me. I was hungry for real news and serious broadcasting, and NPR did not seem to fill that need.
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