The Average Sound Bite

I'm sure we have all heard this quote, and we all know who said it. This is a quote by Donald Trump, and many people hate him for it. We also know him for many other quotes. We see many news programs play these quotes over and over again. We know him well for kicking people out of his conferences, many "racist" sayings, and even degrading women. How could a man like this run for president? How could anyone in this nation support this man?

Well, to answer that, I want you to go back and re-read the first sentence. Count on your fingers how long it takes for you to read his quote. Hopefully, it did not take you more than 45 minutes to read. Forty five minutes is how long Donald Trump took to deliver his speech on June 16, 2015. Trump covered a variety of different things over the course of this speech, including moving jobs to America, building our border stronger so that we aren't over populating through immigration, and how we will remove the national debt. The quote we remember from this speech, however, takes approximately eight seconds to read. In easier terms, if you could narrow down a book, such as "The Odyssey," how long would it take? "The Odyssey" is composed of 12,110 lines, so how long would it take you to summarize this book accurately? Could you do it in eight seconds, or maybe even 20 seconds? My guess is no. Yet, many people seem to believe that taking an 8-second sound bite out of a 45 minute speech summarizes the speech perfectly. Trump's speech was taken down to a very small amount of time and used as negative propaganda towards his campaign. This type of propaganda was so easily edited and taken out of context and played nationally so many times that people believe it.

It happens more than you think though. It has been happening almost since 1988. Craig Fehrman of the Boston Globe first realized that the length of a political sound bite had shrunk from 43 seconds in 1968, to nine seconds in 1988. In even more recent political sound bites we see the time lowering under eight seconds. It's not hard to believe watching the current election, unless you watch the debates or speeches live or in full later, all you get exposed to is a very short sound bite from your choice of news outlet.

So the next time you're watching the news, I encourage you to watch for these sound bites. I encourage you to watch the live event in full, and then watch the news later to see if they are able to accurately summarize the event in a short amount of time. Make the opinion for yourself, are common media outlets covering the presidential election to inform you, or to entertain you?

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