By: Corinne Laratonda
The University Room at the Devos Center downtown makes you feel as though you have stepped back in time for just a moment. For the majority of students, like myself, it almost looks like a place that you shouldn’t enter because you just don’t belong there. But, on Wednesday October 5th APR students and faculty, with a few other interesting individuals, gathered together ready to discuss politics with local broadcaster Rick Albin. As I prepared to listen to the presentation, there was one question on my mind: what is Rick Albin going to teach us?
Albin is the main political reporter for WOODTV8. He has interviewed every president since Gerald. R. Ford. He has worked in radio and on television in five states, discussing a variety of topics including political debates. His experience ranges from local governments to national politics. Albin is also the host of the show “To the Point” that airs Sundays at 10 a.m. on WOODTV8
The presentation was focused on the idea of messaging in politics, a complicated topic. Albin discussed how the messages found in both campaigns have remained consistent through the duration of the election season. He pointed out specific insights from both Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton’s campaigns. Most importantly, he explained how both of the candidates use rhetoric that is similar to rhetoric used in previous presidential campaigns.
Ablin shared that the problems discussed in the debates are comparable to the issues discussed in previous elections he covered. So, the majority of the issues discussed are nothing new, despite current beliefs that this election is unlike any other. At the end of the day, the main points are safety, security, and economic stability.
“The issues are the same as in every election I covered; they’re just doing it with more food fights,” said Albin.
“Food fights” is an interesting, yet truthful way to describe the behavior between the candidates during previous debates. From twitter wars to full on trash talking on live television: these candidates make civil conversation look impossible. But, Albin firmly believes that this is not the worst presidential election in our nation’s history. Despite the many individuals who are worried for the future of our country, he believes that our country has made it out of worse conditions than this.
The final point of the presentation dealt was about social media. It’s very obvious that social media has played a huge role in the current presidential campaign. Both candidates are avid users of Twitter, and have often communicated with supporters through social media. There is a unique level of connectivity that has not been allowed in previous elections because of social media. But, Albin noted that despite all its benefits, social media can also make individuals bias.
“Social media has changed campaigns because people can self select sources, of information and keep out contrary views,” said Albin.
With the number of news sources at our fingertips, it is impossible not to be overwhelmed and slightly biased when choosing our news. Social media allows people to look up sources based on their already formed political opinions. They choose sources that match these opinions, and spend the time scrolling through the same articles from these sources. When individuals scroll through their timeline they may come across contrary opinions posted by members in their friends list. When this happens, arguments may begin causing unnecessary drama on different social media platforms. But, facts are facts and social media is becoming a main outlet for news, biased or not.
Rick Albin was a perfect way to start off this year’s APR Speaker Series. Overall, the presentation was very informative and entertaining. He gave students a unique understanding of the key messages in the campaigns, and helped them understand that the state of our country is not as bad as we think (which is something that the majority of Americans need to hear at the moment). It will be interesting to see what happens after this year’s election.
Corinne is a senior at GVSU majoring in Advertising/Public Relations with a minor in French. When she is not in PRSSA/GrandPR meetings, she enjoys volunteering with her sorority sisters in Delta Zeta.