We will continue editorial board interviews
We have received a few phone calls asking us if our newspapers plan on continuing our practice of recommending candidates in local and state elections.
The questions are coming because the chain of newspapers formerly owned by The New York Times recently announced that it would no longer hold editorial board interviews with candidates and would no longer recommend candidates. The Lakeland Ledger is part of that group.
We intend to continue the practice of recommending candidates. We intend to do so because we think it serves our readers and helps make our communities a better place to live.
We don’t believe that our editors and managers are any smarter than the average Polk County voter. We do, however, think that we spend a lot more time thinking about, talking about and writing about local politics than the average voter. We do that because we think that’s why we are here. We are, in essence, paid by our readers to report the news but also provide opinions about the news.
A community newspaper that truly cares about the community that it serves does much more than just show up and cover meetings or events. We should do more than just ask politicians what they think about issues and then reprint their answers.
We are not merely stenographers, but we also are charged with adding context to events and helping our readers understand the issues in a campaign and the people running for office.
Our reporters and editors strive to be well-versed in those issues and we try to get to know the people who are seeking public office.
We do not think we are necessarily smarter than our readers, we just think we go to more candidate forums and conduct more in-depth interviews than the average reader. It’s a question of access, not intelligence that sets the newspaper apart from its readers.
We could just hand candidates questionnaires about local issues and then print their answers in the paper. But we think you expect us to do much more than that.
You could make an argument that in the ages of 24-hour news cycles and constant Internet news reporting that the need for newspaper recommendations is an outdated concept.
The reality is, we believe, just the opposite.
When the world is full of so much information hurled in your direction from blogs, talk radio, TV news and political websites , your community newspaper’s editors should be counted on to distill that information and put some of it into context and provide you with opinions that you can agree with or discard.
Our candidate recommendations are not endorsements. The men and women we recommend are not our candidates. We do not endorse their candidacies or their actions in the campaign or in office.
We are proud to carry on the newspaper tradition of interviewing candidates and offering our opinion afterward and think the practice has never been more relevant or needed.