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Florida Press risks extinction as it continues consistent candidate exclusion

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Today, July 10, 2014, the Florida Press Association (FPA) holds its 2014 convention at Miami's Biltmore Hotel. The FPA membership is a virtual Who's Who of Florida traditional media companies including Palm Beach County's Palm Beach Post and the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

Traditional media outlets, such as the members of the FPA, continually exclude political candidates from news coverage unless they are a Republican or a Democrat. Often third party candidates, such as Libertarian Party candidates, either get a slight mention at the close of an article or are not mentioned at all even though they have equally qualified and their name will be printed on the ballot for the public to vote. This unquestionably is a disservice to the general public and seems contrary to journalistic integrity taught in college classes around the nation. It also seems contrary to the FPA's own tagline which reads "Promoting and encouraging higher standards of journalism."

However the reign of the FPA is rapidly losing its grip on news distribution as media outlets such as this one, and reputable blogs flood the Internet with information previously unavailable to the public. So long as Examiner.com and other alternative media outlets are able to qualify news articles with quality services such as Google News, the public will see those articles alongside, if not atop, FPA member's articles. Whereas the FPA and other organizations traditionally exclude third party candidates from the public's view, the rise of alternative media is happily quenching the increasing thirst the public has for candidates that are not a Democrat or a Republican.

Since December, 2008 there have been eight major newspaper organizations which have gone into bankruptcy due to declining readership. Even the New York Times famously had to sell its iconic New York City building and lease it back in order to raise money to stay afloat.

To the credit of NBC's Chuck Todd, he co-authored the article Independents' Day? Game Rigged Against Third-Party Candidates where he states, "Third-party candidates typically don’t get the media attention -- and thus name ID -- that Democrats and Republicans get (and never mind the rigged ballot rules in so many states against third parties and independent candidates)." The article goes on to say, "Then again, with social media and the power of outside groups, there is a potential PATH for a strong third-party candidate."

One of the most prominent complaints by 2012 Libertarian Party presidential nominee, Gary Johnson, was the blatant media exclusion even though he had a solid resume and was a serious candidate for the presidency. Yet, his name was rarely mentioned in the traditional media and thereby was only able to garner over one million votes nationally. It is a given, had he been treated the same as the Republican and Democrat in the race while also permitted in the Presidential Debates, his share of votes would have been markedly higher. Johnson would have won Florida according to the website isidewith.com and nationally Johnson would have come in a close second behind Barack Obama and well ahead of Mitt Romney. Johnson continues his lawsuit against the Commission on Presidential Debates for his exclusion in 2012 even though he met their criteria for inclusion.

So we see, it is the traditional media that has been the king makers in the past and is time for the Internet to level the playing field so the nation's voters get a clear view of all the qualified candidates, not just the ones who meet the unreasonable criteria of the FPA. What is the fear traditional media has by including Libertarian Party candidates equally in their news coverage?

Today, Libertarian Party of Florida Gubernatorial candidate Adrian Wyllie will be at today's FPA Gubernatorial Candidate Forum even though they have purposely excluded him from the event. Wyllie has offered he will either be heard or will be arrested.

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