In our current plurality system the media plays a somewhat obnoxious and trivial role. They pinpoint the two "front runners." This informs voters which two candidates are "viable" and therefore worthy of a vote, and informs them that the remaining candidates are not worth wasting a vote on, since they have no chance. The media accomplishes this by polling, or by mindlessly selecting the two candidates with the most money, and essentially refusing to provide any coverage whatever to third-party candidates, no matter how interesting their views. (That was not just us ranting. We can back it up with facts.)
The two frontrunners then get to be the "two evils" in the subsequent plurality-election's selection of the "lesser of two evils."
Of course this role engenders a lot of hatred towards the media. Perhaps this hatred is unwarranted since the media plays this role only because the plurality voting system demands it of them.
Under range voting the media would play a more interesting and socially useful role of identifying which candidates are the best and finding out just what their views & qualifications are.
The media would not be as obliged to act as a screener for selecting front runners. It would no longer serve a useful purpose for the media to deny coverage to third-party candidates. All candidates could now play a useful and non-negligible role in the war of ideas. Indeed the media would be obliged to provide more information on all candidates since every voter gets to award a vote-rating-score to every candidate.
If you are a member of the media, don't you think you'd prefer this new state of affairs?
More about the USA media's problems and how they are related to the USA's voting system's problems
Consider the Minnesota gubernatorial election of 1998. For some reason the usual policy – of the media almost completely ignoring all third-party candidates, and the debates (organized by the top two parties with the implicit cooperation of the media) refusing to permit any third-party candidate to participate – didn't happen. (Probably that was only because both major party candidates H.H.Humphrey III and Norm Coleman thought allowing Ventura to debate would hurt the other.)
Result: After the public got to hear Jesse Ventura (Reform Party) in the debates, he shot from single digits in the polls up to winning the election with running mate Mae Schunk, despite the fact V&S's campaign funding was far smaller than either of his opponents. Voter turnout in Minnesota also increased remarkably, to 63%, apparently because of this inclusion. (Minnesota campaign finance spending limits and subsidy laws also leveled the playing field somewhat, giving Ventura more of a chance against his heavily funded opponents.)
If we had range voting, third party candidates getting media attention would become the norm rather than the exception.
Here's a quote from James M. Perry of the Wall Street Journal [quoted in Steven J. Rosenstone, Roy L. Behr, Edward H. Lazarus: Third Parties in America: Citizen Response to Major Party Failure (2nd edition) Princeton Univ. Press 1984, 1996] explaining why they currently do not cover third-party candidates:
We base [our decision] on the simple proposition that readers don't want to waste their time on someone who won't have a role in the campaign. We're not going to run a page-one spread on a fringe candidate. We don't have a multiparty system. Until we do, nobody's going to cover these candidates.
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