What is the best way to cover municipal elections? As journalists, that is a question we have been asking ourselves constantly since the election season kicked off.
There have been some concerns that it is unfair to candidates whose profiles are published earlier, as they may be forgotten at the time of the election. As journalists, it’s our duty to make sure our election coverage remains as fair as possible.
In Vanderhoof alone, there are nine candidates for district council and two candidates for mayor. In Fraser Lake, there are five candidates for council and two candidates for mayor. At the Express, we are committed to giving each of these candidates equal play in our paper.
We have reached out to every single one of these candidates and provided them all with the same date and time options for interviews. Many have gotten back to us and have either completed their interview or set one up for later this week or next, and we appreciate their cooperation. A few others have not gotten back to us yet, despite several phone calls and emails. We will continue to reach out to them until everyone who wants an interview and an article has one.
In their interviews, all of our candidates are asked the same, or very similar, questions. The only time the interviews vary is when we ask follow-up questions relating to an individual candidate’s answers. For council candidates, the articles all run from 400 to 600 words, with a photo of the candidate in question. The variation in length depends solely on how much the candidate says in their interviews.
Unfortunately, because there are so many council candidates, all of whom are available to speak to us at different times, we are unable to include them all in one paper.
For mayoral candidates, the articles will run a bit longer, but should run even closer in length. Mayoral candidate articles will be run in the same paper (i.e. the articles on Gerry Thiessen and Justus Benckhuysen will run in the same issue, and the articles on Sarrah Storey and Dwayne Lindstrom will run in the same issue). This is both in the interest of fairness, and because there are few enough mayoral candidates that it is possible to do so.
At the Express, we do not chose which candidate article will run first or last in our paper. We run them in the order the candidates were interviewed.
As for the concern that one candidate may be forgotten if their article runs early, all of the candidates’ stories will be available online via www.ominecaexpress.com/municipal-election, and can be shared whenever the candidate or someone else may please. We will also run an article online in the days before the election with a break down of who is running, a brief synopsis of their platform or who they are, and links to the original article written about them.
Vanderhoof Omineca Express