A political-season appeal to YES! Weekly readers

Eric Ginsburg and I have interviewed dozens of candidates each in this political season. On a weekly basis we file at least one story apiece that involves thorough reporting on the political races in Guilford and Forsyth counties that examine the candidates' histories and campaign styles and compare their positions on issues that are important to our region, state and nation. We attend candidate forums and piece together which hopefuls are informed and thoughtful, and which are making desperate rhetorical ploys.

 With the help of intern Karen Phillips, we've put together exactly 100 candidate backgrounders for our online voter guide, and that doesn't even count the candidates that were knocked out of contention in the primary. The next issue of YES! Weekly will feature a story about changes in Guilford County's state legislative delegation. I'll have two companion pieces about the congressional races in North Carolina's 5th and 12th congressional districts. Between Eric and I, we've already filed stories about two Guilford County Commission district races, Forsyth County state Senate and House races, campaign stops by Mitt Romney and Pat McCrory, and the mayoral and at-large races for High Point City Council.

We put in long, grueling hours conducting interviews, compiling information and carefully assembling stories so that they are fair and comprehensive. We do it because we believe that a functioning democracy requires an engaged electorate. We do it even though we know that media literacy and newspaper readership are on the decline. We do it because we believe citizens need a base line of facts to make wise decisions in the midst of a political landscape strewn with partisan flak. We do it because we need this kind of reporting now more than ever.

We know there's an audience for this work because each candidate backgrounder has received somewhere between 200 and 1,000 page views. Eric's story about the Republican primary for the new Guilford County Commission District 6 seat is the second most read online Dirt story in the history of this publication, while my story on the 12th Congressional District Democratic primary ranks sixth.

But we don't know who's consuming all this information because, to be frank, we don't get a lot of feedback from you. We have no idea whether the audience for these stories is ordinary voters or primarily political candidates and their entourage of managers and consultants. We don't really know what kind of information is helpful to you in making decisions at your polling places.

So I'm asking for your indulgence. Please write a couple words about a particular candidate or political contest -- something you like or dislike about them, or just find significant. Let's leave aside the marquee race between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. How about Walter Dalton vs. Pat McCrory, Virginia Foxx vs. Elisabeth Motsinger, Howard Coble vs. Tony Foriest, Mel Watt vs. Jack Brosch, Linda Coleman vs. Dan Forest, Trudy Wade vs. Myra Slone, Ed Hanes Jr. vs. Charlie Mellies, Paul Gibson vs. Jeff Phillips.... How about Bernita Sims, Chris Whitley, Coy Williard and Tammy Holyfield in the High Point mayoral race?

We'd like to get a political pulse on the region we serve to understand how ordinary voters are processing information about candidates. So please, no campaign managers and professional political consultants. And please provide your name and hometown so we can get a sense of where you're coming from. You can weigh in by commenting on this blog. Or find us on Facebook and Twitter, and comment there.

We’d love to hear from you.


Terry Austin said...

I'm not crazy about the Democratic candidate for Governor, but I'm very worried about the awful laws that will get passed if McCrory is elected, with the NC legislature dominated by Republicans. I foresee more cuts in social service programs, anti-women laws and regulations, regulations being scrapped, etc. So I'm voting Democratic, even though I can't remember his name.

Lauren said...
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