I realize that a significant amount of what I write on the blog operates at the level of elevated snark, but even I don’t even know how to respond to this piece in the Great Falls Tribune, in which the editors of the paper discovered that readers would like their newspaper to actually discuss issues involved in political campaigns.
According to people who responded to the Tribune’s call for better political coverage, the people of Montana would like their paper to address these issues:
Statewide issues they wanted explored include: Medicaid expansion, voter registration limits, energy efficiency, natural resource development, states’ rights, death penalty, assisted suicide, water rights, income tax reform, gasoline tax hikes and alternative energy development.
Federal issues they wanted candidates to discuss include: immigration, Social Security, the Affordable Care Act, balanced budget amendment, curbing national debt, Congressional inaction, North Fork and Rocky Mountain Front wilderness proposals, abortion and women’s reproductive rights, gay marriage, redistribution of wealth, income gap, school choice, voting rights, global warming and rural mail service
I guess I would have assumed a day of J-school would have offered the same insight, that the purpose of political journalism is to give the readers informed insight into how the candidates they vote for or against might respond to important questions facing the state. Perhaps that’s all given way to discussions about how to monetize web content and creating viral videos, though. Just over ten months ago, I called for the press to do exactly what the Tribune is saying its readers want now:
Next, focus on the candidates’ positions on critical issues facing Montana and run those stories every week. Voters deserve to hear what the candidates believe about reproductive rights, military intervention, wolves, Social Security, and the whole gamut of political issues facing the state and nation in more depth than 30 second ads allow
It sounds like I was right, doesn’t it? People want to make informed votes, not read endless stories about pre-packaged press events designed to transmit talking points or assessments about who is ahead in the horse race.They’d like to know what voting for one candidate over another will mean for their paychecks, their acess to human rights, and their environment. Will the Great Falls Tribune follow up? Will it answer the questions its readers told the paper they want answered? If the past is any guide, it’s hard to believe they will, but I’m an optimist. Time will tell.