I conducted a fun little experiment yesterday. After noticing many people expressing frustration on political Twitter that Elizabeth Warren wasn’t getting enough media coverage for her policy ideas, I wondered, are those same people sharing her policy proposals themselves?
So, I searched on Twitter for “Elizabeth Warren policy” and scrolled through the results for those complaining about the lack of coverage. They often framed it in terms of other candidates, especially Beto O’Rourke and Pete Buttigieg, receiving attention while Warren was doing policy roll-outs. Then I looked through those individual Twitter users’ previous tweets to see if they had ever, you know, shared a story about a Warren policy.
I think you can see where this is headed.
It may not surprise you that only 20% of the several dozens of Twitter users whose history I looked through, many of whom’s complaints were widely retweeted, had also shared a story, video, or statement on an actual, full policy proposal from Warren.
Now, obviously, complaining on social media goes hand in hand. Still, come on! There’s no limits to the number of Tweets you can send of Facebook posts you can make. If you are so outraged over Warren’s smart, detailed policy proposals being largely ignored, then maybe share a couple of them yourself.
Yes, Warren’s policy roll-outs aren’t getting as much attention as the horserace polls, the Buttigieg boom, the Beto-mania, or the Biden speculation. But there are still some stories being written about it.
Warren also wrote in the Washington Post about an idea to let the government manufacture prescription drugs.
The Des Moines Register had her agriculture policy roll-out, which was heavy on anti-trust measures.
CNN wrote about her proposal to break up big tech companies here.
Here’s a nice Wired piece that explains what the Right-To-Repair idea that Warren is pushing is all about.
The Nation wrote up her reasoning for getting rid of the electoral college.
This Vox piece has all the bullet points of Warren’s anti-corruption act.
Vox also covered how a Warren presidency would try to enact a Wealth Tax.
Slate has a story on Warren’s plan for affordable child care.
And here’s a piece from The Atlantic on how Warren wants to fix the country’s housing crisis.
That’s ten policies right there that you could easily click on and then share. It’s not that hard.
Because here’s the thing, folks: while it is important to call out media double standards, no voter is going to choose a candidate simply because they hear about how the media is being unfair to them. They choose candidates based on their ideas, biography, and presentation. If all you do is play media critic during the 2020 primary, you’re not going to actually convince your friends on anything other than the media sucks.
And we all have our own agency in this. Many of us largely get our news from our social media feeds these days. That’s how about 80% of you came across this story. You may not have the national reach that a New York Times reporter does, but the stories you share on Twitter and Facebook come up just the same in your friends’ feed as those national journalists. So, take advantage of that. Push back against sexist double standards you see in the media, but also share things the candidates are proposing.
If you actually want to be supportive of female candidates instead of just sounding like you are, you need to promote what those candidates are talking about, not what everyone else is saying – or not saying – about them. Virtue signaling isn’t going to change the 2020 race one bit.
Here’s the other thing: we’re all part of the same political news ecosystem. How we interact with the news helps to shape how the news is reported.
Early on in Starting Line’s run, I tried writing more often about policies and legislation. Guess what? You all didn’t click on those stories, read them, or share them. But, oh sure, you loved the pieces about polling, the behind-the-scenes campaign moves, and speculation of who’s running for what. So, I focused on those stories in order to build up our readership, while still slipping in those important policy and legislation pieces, which then got more clicks than before because there were more eyeballs on the website.
You can provide more incentive for news companies to report on all the detailed policy issues of the 2020 race by reading and sharing those stories that do get written about them. And even if the allure of the political clickbait still drives much of the coverage decisions, at least your friends will be better informed of the issues and be more likely to make their candidate decisions based on that.
Bottom line: don’t just complain. Do something about it. And if you want to follow more of Elizabeth Warren’s policy ideas, she’s got most of them up on her Medium page.
by Pat Rynard
Photo by Julie Fleming