On yet another Election Day, I sit at my office desk with the late-morning sun streaming through the windows, capturing the dust motes suspended in the air.
It’s a fine time for reflection before I tuck my notebook under my arm and head out to the streets to see what I can see.
This is how I do on Election Day, whether I be a reporter, an editor or a publisher, because election coverage is arguably the most important job of the press — the local press in particular.
How else are citizens supposed to find out about obscure candidates on the granular level, like city council and school board? Where else can they tap into the institutional memory to help understand the big picture, the long game? Who else will compile all this information in one place, if not us?
Frankly, I’m shocked at the lack of participation in this primary election by our city dailies, who have barely touched any of these races. Remember, these contests will determine who makes it to the ballot in July (for the city of Greensboro) or November, or, like in the Guilford DA race, name the winner outright.
Not that it’s any of my business.
We started our coverage months ago, when our new Managing Editor Sayaka Matsuoka fully understood the task: to cover the candidates without fear or favor, the way our paper has been doing since the beginning — and, truth be told, even before that. It’s not the sort of thing, she realized, that can be slapped together in a couple of days.
My first election guide was at a different paper, all the way back in 2005, when I was, for a brief moment, the youngest editor in town. We covered the Greensboro City Council election that year, diving deep on the issues and conducting individual candidate interviews for endorsements. That paper came out on Wednesdays, so we began our practice of writing up the results before midnight and getting them into the next day’s edition.
We no longer come out on Wednesdays, and we don’t do endorsements anymore (we have our reasons). But we still tackle the thing head-on. And I still believe it is the most useful and impactful work we do.
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