Taking a look at the article by Charles Johnson in today’s IR about Jon Tester’s energy plan, I was struck by how lazy the reporting on the issue was. Basically, the article is two parts: a summary of Tester’s talking points from his web site, and then a ‘recap’ of what other candidates think about the issue.
Instead of interviewing (or noting that he tried to contact the other candidates), Johnson deals with all the other candidates like this:
Former state Rep. Paul Richards, now of Boulder, has an extensive renewable energy plan on his Web site. State Auditor John Morrison of Helena does not list energy among the six issues he discusses on his Web site. Clint Wilkes, a Bozeman businessman, mentions no issues on his Web site.
On the Republican side, incumbent Sen. Conrad Burns lists energy as a major issue and calls for more domestic oil production and more extensive use of clean coal technology. Burns favors more use of hydrogen fuel cells, ethanol fuels, biomass energy and wind power.
The other Republican, Bob Kelleher, doesn’t have a Web site for this campaign yet.
Why in the hell do I need the press to summarize the web site of candidates? Hold them accountable; call them and ask them for information. If they don’t provide it, mention that. Given the limited time between now and the primary, why aren’t our newspapers running two columns a week on the candidates–and their positions on the issues?
We can talk all we want in this country about the failure of the political process, but until the press takes seriously its responsibility to inform citizens about issues, won’t most people continue to vote about personality and scandals, if they bother at all?