Modern Political Reporting “Snowballing toward dysfunctionality.”- Susan Tolchin

Story by Laura Qualey

University of Utah’s Hinckley Institute of Politics hosted a panel discussion on political reporting and modern media, Friday, Oct. 28.

From the loss of factually driven data to the demise of print media, Susan Tolchin, John Daley and Matt Canham discussed issues regarding political reporting. Panelists discussed the changes in political reporting since technology has made it possible for immediate news updates, civilian reporting and private life exploitation.

John Daley, a KSL/ Deseret News reporter, mentioned that with the pressure of producing for today, journalism is becoming increasingly, “challenging,” adding that with the continually shrinking staff at many news source outlets, the amount of regulation and fact verification has decreased, leading to the releasing of inaccurate information.

Susan Tolchin, a professor in the School of Public Policy at George Mason University, addressed political reporting as the “watchdog over the failings of government,” mentioning that it is the duty of political journalists to confront politicians and be a voice for citizens.

Panelists discussed the growing conundrum of media watching government and who watches media. Political reporting has transitioned into a personal-professional hybrid. With the emergence of technology, politicians’ personal lives have become increasingly more public. With blogs, social media and sites such as YouTube, “a man’s character is his fate,” Tolchin added.

Matt Canham, a Salt Lake Tribune correspondent, discussed that “it is our responsibility as a consumer to point out media errors.” As more interaction between news outlets and consumers develops, the reader can now affect the reporting.

Millions of dollars are invested in political campaigns each year, leading to the unfortunate fact that “money wins,” said Canham.  However despite how much money is invested in a campaign, many politicians’ hopes are destroyed through investigative political journalism. This new-age way of investigating into the personal lives of politicians has led to countless scandal discoveries and numerous YouTube videos that have gone viral.” U. student Sarah Vaughn said she “had no idea there was so much money in politics,” which brought to light a new way of viewing politics.

As political journalism has become more interactive, similar to that of social media sites, many political journalists believe they are in a sense competing against social media. It seems as though it is now just as easy for a reader to receive news from a friend on Facebook, as it is to log onto a news source website to receive information.

“This discussion has made me question how I determine a news source is trustworthy,” Said U. student Shannon Hunter.

As we embark on this new age of political reporting, Susan Tolchin says she is “very excited.” However panelists noted that without regulation and boundary establishment modern political reporting could very well be “snowballing toward dysfunctionality.”

For more information on events held at the Hinckley Institute of Politics visit: