By AL CROSS
Institute for Rural Journalism
University of Kentucky
At many community newspapers, treatment of the presidential election may be limited to online polls of your readers’ opinions, or their letters. But this is a race for president like no other, where facts and issues have taken a far back seat to entertainment, personality and character assassination, and it’s unlikely to get better now that we have the two most unpopular nominees in the history of polling.
Why should smaller newspapers devote more space to the race? If dailies rely on the Associated Press, the coverage won’t be localized. If weeklies just stick to local news, they will ignore a major topic of discussion among their readers, many of whom don’t read a daily. Covering the race can help you build and maintain a brand as the most authoritative local source of news and information.
As the primary campaigns ended, many journalists acknowledged that they had done a poor job of holding the nominees and other candidates accountable for their statements, and vowed to do better. But at last month’s conventions, timely fact-checking was rare. All of us in American journalism need to share the load.