It never fails that I ruffle a few political feathers every election year. This year has been no exception. Given the extensive field of candidates, it was completely unavoidable.
During election months, I walk a fine line here at the newspaper. I take that line, albeit an invisible one, very seriously. I strive not to show favoritism to any political candidate. While that sounds easy enough, it is not.
Some candidates become very active during election months. They are everywhere and doing every-thing. So am I. If they aren’t there, their signs are. People are wearing their shirts, pins, and stickers. I am trying to cover local events and I have to be highly aware of my surroundings just to make sure I do not accidently get candidate-related propaganda in the picture.
During Kevin Dunlap’s push for state office, I was covering Midway’s Fourth of July activities. His signs were everywhere. People were wearing "Vote for Kevin Dunlap" stickers. There was this cute little girl and she had one on. I politically asked mom if she would remove it. She did, but after I went into my spiel about election years and not showing favoritism.
To be completely honest, I veto everything I can. I won’t allow political candidates in my pictures during community events. If any try, I will ask them to step aside. I’m not shy about that. I’m very vocal.
While I might name them in my article, if absolutely necessary, I will avoid quoting them. Those words, or a combination of them, will be used by me more times than I can count during election months. Some will understand and accept it, but others will not.
If covering community events during election years isn’t tough enough, I’m the city and county government reporter. Here is my guideline: If you currently hold office and what you are doing is part of that responsibility, I might use it. No promises. Everything else is subject to veto and that includes their association with community groups.
The Southern Standard has gotten complaint calls from at candidates who feel like I’m being too strict with my veto policy. Specifically, I refused to use pictures from their organizational affiliations. I named them in the article, when necessary, but they prefer I run the pictures. I will not.
As I explained to my bosses, while quite a few of our current candidates are in organizations, others join them in anticipation of hopefully securing those votes. Sad, but true.
I do understand that some political candidates have held long-term membership in their organizations and some of them hold offices in those organization, but naming them in the article should be enough. Pictures of them aren’t necessary.
To all the candidates: I am not trying to be mean to anyone. I am trying to be fair to everyone. I wish all of you the best, but it is not my intention to help or hurt in that effort.
My veto policy remains intact.
Standard reporter Lisa Hobbs can be reached at 473-2191.