Students engage with digital election coverage

Students engage with digital election coverage

Adam Hinegardner refreshed his phone for the ninth time in one day. Election Day. Was there an update on Nevada finally counting its election ballots?

For Hinegardner, junior theater and ASL major; Amelia Turnbull, first-year broadcasting major; and a majority of students on campus, checking election coverage became an obsession –  specifically election coverage on digital media platforms.

“I just googled the word election, and I used the nice little diagram that Google has with the Associated Press,” Hinegardner said.

Turnbull also used social media to consume her election coverage last week.

“I consumed it on Instagram from the people I follow there and on Facebook from the people I follow on there,” Turnbull said.

Tobias Garcia, senior theater major, consumed through social media, but followed live streams as well.

“I mostly watched livestream news from YouTube, like news channels that have streams of their broadcasts available for free on YouTube,” Garcia said. “There were a few people in the press, just from different companies that were posting updates hourly on TikTok or Snapchat with their sources that I was checking as well.”

The amount of time spent consuming election coverage varied for each student.

“I basically just had a tab open on my computer running the entire time,” Hinegardner said. “If I was doing homework I just kind of left, didn’t really watch it, and I would just check up on every once in a while. I was basically viewing it every single day, until Biden got the majority votes.”

Garcia viewed election coverage in a similar way.

“Probably an exceeding amount,” Garcia said. “These last month, two months every single thing that popped up on like news alerts or on social media or anything like I would go through. The last couple of days, from the day before the election to when we finally knew, I was checking the AP’s Electoral College vote probably, at minimum, once an hour.”

But Turnbull didn’t go looking for election coverage.

“I didn’t look it up that often, it was just like when I went on Instagram, and I go on there a lot,” Turnbull said. “All the feed was election coverage, so I wasn’t looking for it, but it was coming to me.”

Turnbull felt that the coverage was disappointing because it wasn’t fact-based.

“I thought there was a lot of just misinformation or people just saying things to say them, you know, they weren’t getting the actual facts,” Turnbull said. “They were just saying, oh, you use sharpies on your ballot, so your vote doesn’t count in Arizona….Instead of talking about the electoral votes, they’re just making fun of each other, and that was kind of frustrating.”

Hinegardner, on the other hand, thought that the coverage he saw was pretty balanced.

“I follow CNN, and I follow Fox, two opposite spectrums of the political compass almost, and both of them kind of propagated that way,’’ Hinegardner said. “Fox posted grandiose pictures of Trump getting certain states and CNN did the same thing. I don’t think either stay posted what states they’ll either state either accounts posted what state they lost.”

Garcia thought what he saw was leaning towards one way politically, but it didn’t bother him much.

“I think for the most part, it probably leans towards the left a little bit, myself being more left-leaning, I probably consume and watch more media with that bias,’’ Garcia said. “There were a few, like the ones on Snapchat, and TikTok were just 100% factual – this is what has happened in the past hour without any input beyond that.”

The focus of which aspect of the election people were paying attention to wasn’t exactly the same.

Hinegardner and Garcia focused more on the national election, especially the presidential.

“For the most part, I focused on the presidential race, just because I’m living in Indiana specifically in this county,” Garcia said. “I knew the likelihood of a non-Republican candidate winning was pretty low.”

Hinegardner followed suit.

“For my state, or my local [elections], I didn’t really check or care too much, just because I wasn’t really that invested,” he said.

“That was because I move around so much between living in Ohio, going to school in Indiana, and having my girlfriend’s family in Kansas, like I was kind of all over the place.”

Turnbull’s investment was much closer to home.

“I looked more at local and state [elections] during the summer and in the beginning of the school year,” she said. “I would volunteer, and I had an internship where I would door knock for my local officials and then Goshen local officials when I came here, and then I would also do it for the governor.”

“I guess that’s just kind of the nature of the beast,” Hinegardner said.

“I feel like a lot of people [are] more fervent around election time, because this is their moment.”

Zack Begly, Features Editor
Zack Begly, Features Editor
Written by Zack Begly, Features Editor

Reach Zack at zbegly@goshen.edu.

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