Balancing political editorial coverage | Editorial
September 20, 2012 · 9:43 AM
Two weeks ago the Kirkland Reporter ran a column from Andrew Villeneuve in the editorial slot of the opinion page. Villeneuve is a regular columnist in our other papers, such as the Redmond Reporter. He is a Redmond High School graduate, so seeing his words in his hometown newspaper takes on more meaning for those to the east. We at the Kirkland Reporter do not publish Villeneuve’s columns regularly, as his columns are usually very partisan and we do not have a conservative columnist to present the other side. We feel we have a good pulse on the Kirkland community and what our readers want. Our stance on this topic is not one that was known to the interim editor, who was in place during the first two weeks September. Both longtime editorial staff members were out of the office on maternity and paternity leave during that time.
Our editorial policy to not run one political opinion without the other viewpoint on our opinion page is an unwritten rule. We strive to be balanced in our news coverage and try to make that balance bleed over to our opinion page. But that balance is not always obtainable on the opinion page. Just because we received a letter to the editor from a resident endorsing a candidate for an elected office, does not mean that we will receive one from their opponent’s supporters.
Some residents were angry that the column was written about national politics. While we strive to be he hyperlocal in our news coverage, we do run letters to the editor on national topics. It is a grey area as to whether or not we will run columns on national topics such as the presidential election. The topic of the presidential race does ultimately effect those of us in Kirkland. It is different from covering other national stories, such as hurricanes in Florida or a major earthquake in California.
As a result, we will not be publishing the second part of Villeneuve’s column on the Democratic National Convention in print.
Instead we prefer the words of another editor in our company, Craig Groshart of the Bellevue Reporter:
Two weeks ago, the Republicans nominated Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan as their candidates for president and vice president. Last week, Democrats nominated Barack Obama and Joe Biden as their choices.
This means the race for the White House – and all the other political offices – shifts into high gear. Unfortunately, it also means voters will be bombarded by attack ads and untruths.
Despite what you may read and hear in the next few months, we doubt that the people running for office are ax-murderers, child molesters or serial killers. OK, so they really won’t be accused of that, but much of what opponents say about them won’t be true, either.
It’s sad that negative advertising has become such a force in our elections, but studies say voters are swayed by such tactics. As a result, almost anything goes. But that doesn’t mean you have to be taken along for the ride.
Voters are served best when they seek out and understand what a candidate champions and what he or she says are his or her priorities if elected. If a candidate’s priorities align with yours, you may have someone you should support.
It’s also worthwhile – but it takes some work – to see what type of experience and/or background a candidate would bring to the job if elected. While
there’s no guarantee that it makes for the best candidate, it can give a voter a feeling if the person is up to the task.
How to ferret all of this out? The Reporter will help by publishing profiles about the local candidates, which include how they define the issues in the campaign and how they would deal with them.
Voters can also be helped by attending candidate forums to see first-hand if they are able to give the public a clear, concise answer to a question.
Finally, if birds of a feather flock together, see who is supporting the various candidates. Do these backers represent special interests? If so, are they yours, too?
And finally, don’t believe everything you see in a TV political ad or what comes into your mailbox. Do your own homework – and vote what you decide.