This year I experienced the election year as a journalist. What’s that mean, you might ask? It means I watched the democratic process from slightly afar, assessing and retelling only facts pertinent to the affair.
Middle-of-the-line: that was the motto at TheBAYNET.com. When Managing Editor Pete Hurrey interviewed 92 political candidates as part of our “Meet the Candidates” sessions, he refrained from making judgment calls and left any bias in quotation marks. We all feel that’s the only way, the professional way and I’m proud of that.
With that said, let me tell you, it isn’t all that easy to walk that very pointed fence. I don’t know how many times I was personally asked, “Are you a Republican or a Democrat?” or “Who do you plan to vote for?” or “How do you view this or that politically-charged topic?”
My response was always something along the lines of, “I’m a journalist, I don’t have an opinion.”
Not exactly a truthful statement. Of course I have an opinion, as do all of the other news writers at TheBAYNET. But the news, unless it’s clearly marked as an editorial, as this one is above, isn’t about our opinions. It’s about the facts, the truth and the most objective account of events as one living, breathing person can report.
The election season always tests journalistic integrity. Sensationalized and stylized news clips may get more reads, but it’s offering limited scope to your audience, who, especially in an election season, deserve the best view possible…an unobstructed one. Politics and media have gone hand-in-hand for decades with the expectation that journalists will leave out their two cents and write without bias.
It’s a challenging thing to do.
One opinion I am willing to share: party politics are stale. I had a conversation with my 10 year old about the topic.
He asked, “Which one are you, Mom, a Democrat or a Republican?” I answered, “Neither.”
He informed me that you have to be one or the other, in America, everybody’s one or the other. I questioned him as to what he knew about each party’s platform or history or agendas, I found out that he knew very little.
I hail from a family in which my grandfather was a staunch Democrat and my grandmother was a staunch Republican. Every election day, they both voted and cancelled each other out. I registered as an Independent.
This was my first time ever voting. I rolled my eyes when both Republicans’ and Democrats’ pricey print campaign materials filled my mailbox or was found stuffed under my windshield wiper. Regardless of party, I always thought, “What a waste of resources.”
I heard mud-slinging from both sides throughout the campaign and while their pitching styles may differ, in the end, most ended up with a little dirt on their sleeves. A few refrained altogether, which set them apart, regardless of which party they ran under.
Other parties aren’t above the antics and find it difficult to compete for votes in the two-partied paradox.
So, my son learned how it isn’t, in America, necessary to pick one or the other. The many that do, are making the choice they are afforded in our country, as was I.
I told him how African-Americans and women were, for a large part of our history, not allowed to vote and how even choosing not to vote is a right he should be happy he has. However, I was sure to emphasize that exercising it, in theory, gives you a voice in the decision-making process we call government.
Once he grew tired of my lecture, he said, “So is that what you do for work? Tell people who to vote for?”
I said, “No, son, I just try to help them make an informed decision and who they pick is up to them.”
His response: “Cool. Well,I hope they picked good people.”
Me, too, and I appreciate the opportunity I’ve had to contribute to TheBAYNET.com’s extensive, middle-of-the-line election coverage.