Questions and assumptions

Friday, February 17, 2017

In today’s critical political climate, any story in print or broadcast media is under scrutiny for the “slant” or “angle” from which it is intended to sway public thought.

While most of this targeted rhetoric focuses on the large scale, national media outlets, small community paper’s such as the Daily Reporter, are by no means outside the circle of ridicule by conspiracy theory enthusiasts who assume that everything comes with a hidden message of some sort.

Such was the case recently when, prior to the deadline for candidate nomination paper submittals, the paper ran a pair of stories — one on a Clay County supervisor candidate and the other on a Spencer Ward 4 council candidate — as they announced their plans to run for the respective offices.

Once the deadline to file papers for the respective positions had passed, we immediately published a story regarding all of the candidates in the race for each vacant office along with details regarding the upcoming March 7 election.

However, we were taken to task, mostly online again (of course) by locals who assumed that somehow because we had done announcement stories on two of the candidates, plus covering the Clay County Republican Convention event coverage, we were somehow endorsing certain candidates.

Please allow me explain so at least the truth will be shared among the speculation and I will allow our readers to decipher fact from theory fiction.

The reason we had two stories on the two different candidates — Leann Jacobsen running for City Council and Dan Skelton for county supervisor — was because both candidates made formal public declarations of their intention to run and asked to come in and sit down with us to make the announcements. The difference between these two and the other candidates is that none of the others made public their intentions to run, instead quietly filing their papers with the city and county offices as opposed to make a formal announcement.

Similarly, we covered the Republican Convention nomination event because it was a news story. They selected and endorsed a candidate and that’s what we covered. The Democrats chose not to engage in a similar process. It had nothing to do with any kind of preferential treatment, it’s a matter of news.

Now that all the candidates have been announced, we have begun introducing the rest of the field to our readers one at a time. Had they chosen to make the public announcement they would have been recognized sooner, but they chose a more subtle process.

All of the candidates will be allowed the opportunity to share their thoughts with a Q&A format which will appear in the paper in advance of the March 7 election date and I am, on behalf of the Daily Reporter, currently working with area media, to coordinate a candidate forum for both the supervisor and City Council positions which will also afford the opportunity for all the candidates to share more about themselves and answer questions.

So in answer to those suggesting we have some kind of bias at the paper, no we don’t. Some candidates were just more public in their announcement process and contacted us to come in and make a formal announcement.

For those of you who believe the Daily Reporter is a conservative stronghold, I can assure there are an equal number of you who complain that we’re far too liberal. I would challenge either side to present one piece of news coverage suggesting bias for any candidate. Opinions in this paper are limited to the editorial pages and those opinions differ greatly by columnist — which is also a good thing.

There’s a reason we’ve not chosen to endorse candidates in elections, quite frankly it’s not our job. Our job is to give you the information, fairly and honestly, as best we can. Then it’s your job to decide how you feel about the information and the candidates to make as informed a decision as possible based on what you want or need in an elected official.

I can assure you however, as a newspaper, we’re not backing any specific horse in the race.