The last week has been an interesting one, to say the least. The announcement of Joe Biden’s win took a while, but the impact in media was felt almost immediately, as the tone and tenor of the press changed dramatically in just a matter of hours.
The media have been hyper-attentive the last few years, hinging their news cycles on what the current President would say or tweet publicly. It was clearly exhausting.
This past weekend we witnessed a collective exhalation of exhaustion. We saw news anchors break down in tears on national television. We saw visible signs of weights being lifted off the shoulders of people in the press corps. The collective feeling in the media was that we could all take a breath, even if only for a moment.
Of course, that breath is short-lived as we now will soon enter a new news cycle built on the future and on the promise of well thought-out decision-making rather than off-the-cuff statements and hyperbole.
The press has a role here to play that cannot be overstated. While Biden won the election with the most votes in election history, his predecessor lost the election with the second most votes in election history. That means the press must acknowledge that 70 million people are not happy, and need to be brought back into the conversation.
I have written repeatedly that I wish for a fair and balanced media again. I will be honest -- I am very happy with the outcome of the election, but the hard work begins now as the media plays a role in trying to help heal a divided country. The incoming administration stated they will respond to the needs of all Americans and not just the ones who voted for them.
The media is going to have to do the same thing.
The next four years have a unique opportunity to bring the country together. To do so, the opinions of all Americans will have to be heard. The good news is that with measured thinking and decision-making, the news cycle should be slower, and the press will have a moment to debrief, analyze and present topics in a clear and structured manner. They were not afforded the opportunity to do so the last four years because things were always on edge. They were always reacting.
The reality TV of politics may get a little more boring, but no less impactful. The only loser in all this is Twitter, as the average American citizen will probably not be waking up and immediately heading to the platform to find out what was said overnight. There will be less morning anxiety to deal with.
I wrote recently that media should serve the people, not convert them. I still believe that, but maybe “convert” was the wrong word. Media should influence people by being the conduit for the thoughts and beliefs of everyday Americans, so we all have the same information with which to work. Media should help in the development of critical thinking. It should help be the check and balance of the public figures we look toward for guidance. I think it can, especially when given the time and opportunity to do so.
To all my friends in the press and media, I hope you got some rest this past weekend. I hope you were able to go to bed with your phone out of arm’s reach for a couple of nights. I want to thank you for your hard work and dedication these last four years, and I sincerely hope you can get in a little vacation over the next few months. Your services will still be needed as we dive into 2021, albeit in a calmer and more measured fashion. A fashion we can ALL look forward to, no matter who we voted for and how happy we are with the outcome.