presidential election

6 Great Election-Related Movies

In case you didn’t notice from your opinion-barraged social media pages, voting day is upon us. Whether you look forward to this time or just want to vote and not hear another word about politics, here are several great movies themed around the idea of elections — and now is the perfect time to give them a watch.

“Wag the Dog” (1997)

This black comedy film is known more for its foreshadowing than anything else. Loosely adapted from the novel “American Hero,” the story follows a District of Columbia spin-doctor (Robert De Niro) who works with a Hollywood film producer (Dustin Hoffman) to construct a fake war with Albania. The goal is to draw attention away from an upcoming sex scandal involving the president of the U.S. two weeks before the next election.

One month after the release of “Wag the Dog,” the Lewinsky scandal involving then-President Bill Clinton hit, followed by the coincidental bombing of the Al-Shifa pharmaceutical factory in Sudan.

“Dave” (1993)

Directed by Ivan Reitman and starring Kevin Kline and Sigourney Weaver, this film is considered one of the top election-related films for its political comedy and unique story. After the president gets into an extramarital affair with a White House staffer, he hires an impersonator as a cover-up. But during the initial meeting, the president has a stroke and is left in a coma.

The impersonator, played by Kline, is asked to continue standing in for the president since other top White House staff don’t have confidence in the current vice president.

“All the President’s Men” (1976)

Arguably one of the best journalism movies of all time, this film follows two Washington Post reporters who uncover the dishonest election tactics utilized by Richard Nixon during the 1972 Presidential Election. It stars Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman as the two reports.

“All the President’s Men” received widespread praise upon release and in 2010 was chosen for preservation in the United States National Film Registry.

“The Manchurian Candidate” (2004)

This sci-fi political thriller stars Denzel Washington as a proud war veteran who discovers that he has been the victim of nanotechnological experimentation and brainwashing. He eventually discovers that his former NCO, now a U.S. congressman, was also manipulated by a major private equity firm with political connections into running as his party’s vice president.

“The Manchurian Candidate” was well received, offering a chilling depiction of the theoretical power of technology to sway elections.

“Napoleon Dynamite” (2004)

Yes, this comedy is themed around the idea of running for election. “Vote for Pedro,” remember? “Napoleon Dynamite” tells the goofy story of an awkward teenage boy who helps a Mexican transfer student run for class president. From spreading embarrassing rumors about the competition to buying student votes with gifts, the film is not unlike your average presidential election.

“Napoleon Dynamite,” which debuted at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2004, was a surprise hit, winning numerous awards and even developing a cult following.

“Bulworth” (1998)

This political comedy movie is about a California senator who becomes an unlikely favorite to become president of the U.S. The story follows this senator, played by Warren Beatty, as he struggles to maintain a good public image amidst his fight against substance abuse, suicidal thoughts, and an assassin.

“Bulsworth” was nominated for a dozen awards and won the Los Angeles Film Critics Association’s Best Screenplay award. In a private talk with The New York Times in 2013, President Barack Obama referenced the film when saying he often considered “going Bulworth.”

What are your favorite election-related films? Let us know in the comments below!

How the 2016 Presidential Election is Changing Journalism

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Election season is in full swing here in the United States, which means journalists all over the country are doing the same thing they do every four years — delivering news to American citizens. Of course, the way people receive their news has been changing drastically over the last decade or two.

Only 15 years ago, no one had mobile phones, blogs, and social media sites. Now, our news has exploded through the digital, mobile, and social media landscape. 

Thanks to the 2016 presidential election and two “interesting” major candidates, we’re seeing that technology has a greater impact on broadcast journalism than ever before. Digital video is ubiquitous. Journalistic integrity is more critical — and more impactful — than ever. Thanks to a very unusual election cycle, it’s easy to see that aspiring broadcast journalists must navigate an industry of increasing complexity and importance, and have perhaps more responsibility than ever when it comes to communicating with the public. This is partially why the Broadcast Journalism programs at NYFA concentrate on equipping future journalists with the diverse cross-disciplinary skills, experience, and ethical awareness necessary for the reality of 21st century journalism; journalism is changing, and changing fast. And it matters, a lot.

Here are some of the biggest ways this upcoming election has changed the game when it comes to how people communicate — and consume — news.

Domination of Social Media

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Arguably the most significant new technology today, social media has taken a major part in the coverage of the 2016 election. From Facebook and Twitter to Tumblr and Reddit, there are plenty of online sources for people to get their news. But how much larger is social media’s influence today than, say, 10 years ago?

According to Pew Research Center, only eight percent of Americans used social networking sites in 2005. But by September of 2013, than figure changed to 73 percent. Now, we’re seeing a dramatic increase in older voters using social media to follow political figures and get their election news.

For broadcast journalists, social media offers the perfect platform for delivering news in many ways, like linking articles, posting messages, and the use of full motion and digital video. With Facebook and Twitter, journalists are also able to engage their audience of thousands like never before.

Now, the question of delivering all social media news fairly is more important than ever. What’s stopping Twitter and Facebook from implementing algorithms that favor a specific political party, subtly skewing election coverage? There’s already heavy speculation that Twitter curates trending hashtags, which means that what you see as the most popular topics may not actually be the most popular. And there’s no law regulating a social media platform’s power to do this. And, on the flip side, how do journalists navigate the ethical side of social media news? This is a new frontier, and a very important question for the future of media consumption.

Mobile Dethrones Other Platforms

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There was a time when the popular way to obtain news was via newspaper, television, and radio. But with the rise of mobile phones, these classic news sources have seen a decrease in use.

According to Pew Research Center’s 2016 report, daily newspaper circulation fell by seven percent, and newspaper ad revenue also fell by eight percent, between 2014 and 2015. In other words, fewer people are looking to print publications for their news — even when there is no election going on.

And what about radio? Although it isn’t as prominent as before, FM radio still makes up 54 percent of all listening. Another popular listening platform is the podcast, which allows you to download and consume audio whenever you desire. Newer podcasts even display images along with the audio, while vodcasts include video clips as well.

As for television, research shows that the number of late-night local news viewers has fallen as much as 22 percent since 2007. Local TV stations are still seeing an increase in revenue and audience growth in 2016 — which is common during election years — but it seems only older Americans still depend on television. Millennials tend to rely on alternative news sources.

The slow decline of these stalwart media platforms is all thanks to the advent of the smart phone. People don’t need to switch on a radio or television to receive news, much less flip through a black-and-white text. Instead, news and information from all over the world is already available in the palm of their hands — on a device most of us carry at all times.

In keeping with the times, broadcast journalists are turning more to apps and social media pages in order to do their job. And this certainly applies in the case of covering the 2016 Presidential Election.

Credibility in Question More Than Ever

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We’ve already talked about how big social media sites can get away with “curating” the news you see. Just last month, Facebook began changing their trending feature after an outcry from political conservatives.

The fact is, accusations of bias in broadcast journalism are nothing new. But thanks to new platforms and software, questions of authenticity are on the rise. There’s no denying the rise of Adobe Photoshop and other powerful graphic editing tools, and their questionable presence in journalism.

Of course, we know that the media manipulating photographs and other images is nothing new. But with so many people flipping through their social media sites and (sadly) believing everything they see, using altered images can prove more influential than ever before.

On top of facing increased scrutiny in an ever-broadening, increasingly cluttered landscape, broadcast journalists now face the challenge of providing honest, authentic news and images across a huge spectrum of platforms when everyone else might not be playing fair. Now more than ever, integrity and professionalism are key. This is why, as Bill Einreinhofer, NYFA’s Chair of Broadcast Journalism, observes: “NYFA students learn the ethical responsibilities that come with being journalist. It’s not just a ‘job.’” Indeed, broadcast journalism is a calling — and an essential social service, made more social than ever in this changing landscape of news consumption. And the world needs multimedia journalists capable of working across platforms to deliver truth to a growing digital audience.