Elections are both a boon and a curse to the newsroom. Whether you are writing for a big city daily or a community newspaper, election coverage is a double-edged sword.
The question that must always be answered is how do you decipher what is legitimate news, community news or campaign propaganda? You also have to ensure you are treating every candidate as equal as possible.
And the candidates, as well as their supporters, don’t make it easy.
As part of the campaign, potential politicians are everywhere. Local meetings and events that may not normally attract a huge crowd will see attendance double as candidates and their promotional teams mingle, network and push their platforms.
Then there are the passive photo bomb attempts.
Neutral coverage is a difficult task when everyone is either jumping into the photo op or wearing promotional buttons or carrying literature for a particular candidate.
Add to that the letters to the editor which increase in frequency and contain underlying political messages. While not written by the candidates themselves, they are frequently sent by a supporter or campaign manager.
For editors, it becomes a mine field of what should, and more importantly what shouldn’t, run.
The real fear is will actual news events be missed due to an over infatuation with fairness?
The fact is, incumbents have an advantage because, they are already in the public eye.
Council meetings will still get covered because, simply enough, news is still news.
Media will continue to cover newsworthy events, while trying to avoid unnecessary promotion.
We remain neutral, but just as important, we remain news reporters.