Opinion pages cover controversy and that includes making recommendations for election candidates. Here’s what the editorial board is asking them in interviews.
Pray your newspaper’s opinion pages make you mad sometimes. That’s the point. It’s like a checkup to make sure you know what others in your community are thinking — not just those in your College Republicans or Democratic precinct meetings.
On purpose, we run columns from across the political spectrum and, often, Op-Eds and columns that disagree with our editorial board’s positions.
My news-junkie role model, my 82-year-old mother, has always surveilled opinions from different news sources. The lifelong Democrat watches CNN and then, the family joke is, flips over to FOX news for cardio — to get her heart rate up.
When you vary your news sources, you challenge your assumptions about controversies, test your hypotheses.
That’s why I was taken aback by the reported comments of Fox News Channel anchor Neil Cavuto when he discussed Thursday’s shooting at the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland.
“Eyeing through (the newspaper’s website), I don’t notice any rabid editorials or polarizing coverage. It just seems like a very solid local paper,” Cavuto said.
As if that could be a reason for the devastating attack on the newspaper offices? Four journalists and an advertising staff member, another vital part of the journalism mission, were killed — just doing their jobs. Two others were injured and many others terrorized. Still. Somehow. The staff managed to put out “a damn newspaper,” as its Twitter account promised that night. Bless them.
Law enforcement reports that the suspected shooter had a long-standing beef with the Capital Gazette, having lost a defamation suit against the newspaper.
Most journalists have a file they keep of over-the-top emails or threatening voice mails, keeping a casual eye out for troubling patterns. Not long ago, one of my colleagues got a voicemail that resulted in a group of journalists parsing the recording — did he say “kill you”? Very occasionally, the police are called — but not that time.
That is the point of a community media organization — to cover controversy, not to fall into progressive cliques or conservative echo chambers. But to cover the facts, even when people don’t like them.
For an editorial board, which by design, is in the opinion business, the point is also to examine the facts, assess community needs, and make recommendations that nudge, cajole or shove.
Sometimes, that means publishing a rabid editorial that challenges those in power.
This week, the editorial board will begin publishing recommendations for the Aug. 7 primary. On the ballot are mostly legislative and congressional races. Some are entrenched incumbents with challengers of varying qualifications. A couple open seats have attracted nearly a dozen candidates.
First, we are looking for candidates who will be servant leaders, open-minded and resistant to spin, whether from lobbyists or their own caucus leadership.
That’s a big one, especially this year after most lawmakers voted for a bill to exempt the Legislature from the state Public Records Act — and did it without a meaningful public hearing or floor debate. Thirteen newspapers ran some rabid editorials on their front pages, and citizens flooded their leaders’ offices with protesting messages, resulting in a governor’s veto and lawmakers standing down in favor of a task force.
Astonishingly, in our interviews, some incumbents still are parroting their leaders’ spin, demonstrating they have not studied the issues themselves.
• After the state Supreme Court agreed the state met its demands for education financing reform, what is next?
Special education is still woefully underfunded and quality education is about more than just money. What about school construction to accommodate those smaller class sizes?
• What to do about the state’s mental-health system, especially at Western State Hospital, which just lost federal funding.
• What is the state’s role in solving the homelessness crisis?
• What about state tax policy? Does it need tweaking or an overhaul?
• Would you support moving the presidential primary earlier so Washington can have more influence on national candidates? (Yes, please, we say.)
We meet with most of the candidates who are running, after we do some backgrounding on them and their issues. Before ballots go out the week of July 16, we will make recommendations in most races with three or more candidates. For those with only two candidates, we will weigh in before the November general election.
Many readers have been noticing the work of David Horsey, a Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist whose work adorns the facing page today. He had worked for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, then the Los Angeles Times for six years. Now he’s back in Seattle. Enjoy his full-page cartoon of how Seattle has changed in that time. And don’t miss seeing it come to life in an animated version online. Go to st.news/HorseyinSeattle. And please let me know what you think.