Campaign coverage always challenging

Published 10:16 am Thursday, November 6, 2008

Well, now that the election is over, it’s time for a deep breath and a little reflection.

Lawrence County voters said no to alcohol options and yes to Republican commissioners. Not a single alcohol option passed.

The traditionally conservative county was true to form, giving the nod to Sen. John McCain, which was a consistent pattern throughout the southeast region and other rural areas of Ohio.

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In the days leading up to an election, The Tribune did its best to inform voters on the issues that affect them on the national, state and local levels.

Each election cycle presents its own set of challenges, but the one thing that remains consistent is a determination to be fair to candidates and as thorough as possible.

There is only one judge of that. Not us and not the candidates or their close supporters.

It’s the readers of this newspaper.

On the national stage, The Tribune followed the campaign with reports from the Associated Press and local reports on issues that affected the area.

Naturally, there was an effort to make sure the key developments in the race were reported. Locally, reporter Benita Heath gave insight into the campaign with articles that dealt with the observations of Ohio University professors Dr. Michael McTeague and Dr. Michael Heineman.

In all the rhetoric and political propaganda, it’s sometimes difficult to see just exactly how candidates on a national stage will impact a local area. That was part of the motivation for those articles, to offer insight in how the candidates’ ideas and philosophies will affect people in the Tri-State.

We covered the candidates when they made appearances in the area.

In the primary, we reported on visits made by Sen. Hillary Clinton to Hanging Rock and Huntington.

In the general, we traveled to Portsmouth and Jackson to follow Sen. John McCain. During a bus tour in the area, I asked the senator about his thoughts on the challenges facing Appalachia and his ideas for how they could be met.

President-elect Barack Obama also came to Portsmouth and we covered his visit as well.

On the local level, we tried to inform readers about the candidates in various ways. We gave coverage to various debates and published an election guide with biographical information on the candidates and some of their thoughts on why they should be elected.

On the editorial page, letters to the editor ran the political spectrum and gave readers an opportunity to put in their two cents on races on all levels.

That page also had the political endorsements made by the editorial board, something that we defend as a vital part of our editorial process.

All in all, there was a genuine effort to be professional and fair. Our ultimate hope is that our coverage gave readers enough information about the people they were electing when they went to the polls.

We did our best to meet the very demanding challenges that all media face during elections, particularly one of such historic proportions.

It is part of our continuing effort to be a newspaper that serves as an advocate for Lawrence County and citizens who reside here.