A few days ago a friends asked me what it was like to report on the provincial election.
Based on the party she wants in power, she already knew which local candidate she was voting for. But, after chatting some more, she admitted she doesn’t actually know him very well, besides reading his biography in the newspaper and seeing his photo on yard signs.
Then it occurred to me: Reporters get to know election candidates much more than the average person. This goes beyond their political beliefs (which we report in the paper) and includes personal impressions — Are they straightforward or soft-spoken? Do they avoid questions or answer them directly? Are they funny and easy to get along with? Or are they annoying?
Basically, reporters get to know the personalities of the candidates they report on. Usually none of this is written in the newspaper.
After thinking about this a while, I came across this editorial in The Province.
It discusses personal impressions Christy Clark and Adrian Dix gave the editorial board. In the end, the editorial recommends Clark over Dix because of the way she carries herself and handles questions.
I haven’t seen this sort of editorial before but I think it addresses something missing in the way we cover candidates.
It’s a tough topic though because to judge Dix as “jumpy, combative and condescending,” as The Province did, could be taken in a different way by someone else. Although the editorial board agreed, it is subjective.
Community newspapers often portray candidates to the public the way they want to be seen. But should newspaper do more than that? If a candidate is rude and refuses to answer questions, should this be reported more often?
Aside from typical election reporting, this sort of editorial could have an important place in newspapers because readers deserve to know what their politicians are like, as actual people.
What do you think?