Thursday, October 26, 2006

Candidate forums good but are threats needed?

Generally, I'd say candidate forums are good for the community and something newspapers should sponsor.

This year, Christian County is a hotbed of local politics and the newspaper is right in the middle of the fuss. The newspaper has taken strong editorial stands in favor of candidates and certain positions. That is, afterall, one of the functions of a newspaper.

Reporters from the Christian County Headliner are also moderating and asking questions at a candidate forum. I suppose that is fine. Who would know more about the issues in a county than the reporters who cover that county?

I do think there is a fine ethical line being walked here since the newspaper should be striving for unbiased news reporting. That can become difficult if reporters or editors get too connected with certain candidates or issues.

But my larger concern is whether or not the newspaper is using threats to get candidates to partcipate. I agree that candidates should be excited about a candidate forum but what if they believe they are going to be ambushed? That is a different issue. And what would make a candidate think the forum might not be fair? Read these lines from an editorial in the Headliner on 10-25-06:

The incumbent Sen. Dan Clemens, Republican from Marshfield, has not yet responded to our invitation. We've spoken to his campaign organization a number of times but as of press time he remained unresponsive.

Incumbents often say they have nothing to gain by participating in the process to which they were elected. Well Sen. Clemens you may have nothing to gain by showing up tomorrow, but you will have a lot to lose if you don't.
If a candidate doesn't have enough respect for his or her constituents to come face-to-face with them at any time, let alone at election time, they certainly are not worthy of your vote.

I don't know Sen. Clemens. I've never met him but this reads to me more like a threat than a promise to conduct a fair candidates forum. I'm wondering if those threats have been used with other candidates ... and I wonder about the ethics involved?

What are your thoughts?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like the idea of candidate forums but what the Ozark newspaper printed sounds like black mail to me. Come to our forum -- which will be fair -- or we will blackball you in print. Hmmm. Reads to me like the newspaper might be doing more than simply endorsing a candidate. Plus, that makes the forum sound pretty biased from the beginning. I think an ethical line has been crossed here by the newspaper.

11:20 AM, October 26, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You've got to kidding me. The portion of the editorial given here in bold type is a threat. So is that what American journalism has become, threats from editors who want their way, "or else." Good grief.

12:14 PM, October 26, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is very interesting ... and apparently the threats didn't work. I just read in the News-Leader that Clemens was a no show. I'll be anxious to see how the Headliner makes him pay for not being there. No, wait, I don't read the Headliner ... so I guess I won't see. But, I will wager to guess that he will still pay the Headliner for an advertisement. I guess the Headliner doesn't think anyone reads the ads in their paper. Wait, I guess a lot of us don't.

10:58 AM, October 27, 2006  

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