Clark: Looking towards the end

Nov. 06, 2012 @ 10:36 AM

Today, in theory, should about wrap things up.

With Election Day taking part all day today, the end is near and I, for one, could not be more thrilled.

Don't get me wrong, as a former political reporter, I used to thrive on the election season.

The number of stories could fill a book. But, much like every other election season I have been a journalist during, I am just waiting for the end.

Fortunately, today is the end.

As a news organization, it is our job to be fair and balanced with our coverage. You don't want to give the appearance that you are attempting to sway an election one way or the other.

This holds true with a lot of things that are part of the election process.

We decided, early on, that we would not be accepting endorsement letters to the editor during the season.

Now, I am one that firmly believes in the First Amendment and everyone's right to free speech. However, I learned long ago that, during an election cycle, some people can take that way to the extreme.

There was one situation (not here, but at another newspaper) where a candidate called me to ask about endorsement letters. I told him that we would be fair and impartial regarding our policy about the letters and allow them on an equal basis.

Well, in the end, we ran six letters for his candidacy and six for his opponent.

You would think that would not be an issue.

Well, shortly after the election — of which the candidate who called me actually won — he called me back and promptly chewed my backside because the inches of letters for his opponent were greater than the ones for him.

Now, keep in mind, we had a similar policy that we have at The Daily Courier. Letters could be no longer than 250 words. Some of his camp elected not to write to the full length. But, nonetheless, he wanted to argue about the number of words and the inches.

It was at that point, I decided that endorsement letters would no longer be something a newspaper would carry. If you want to get your message out about who you are going to endorse, feel free to put a sign in your yard like everyone else.

Then, there is the question of endorsements through editorials.

I, for one, have never really understood the impact or the need to have a newspaper back a particular candidate. But, I do understand that papers do it and candidates will continue to subject themselves to the interview process.

At The Daily Courier, I wanted to find some kind of a balance. I wasn't necessarily in favor of having the newspaper, itself, endorse a particular candidate in a race, but I also tried to level things out and have some kind of endorsement in the paper.

So, I opened the process to our Editorial Board, of which they answered the call above and beyond my expectation.

The question has already been posed to me as to whether we will change our policy in the next election and my answer is that I really don't know.

People are politically polar in this day of partisanship and, if you are like me, you get tired of hearing about it really fast.

Regardless, I do hope that everyone exercises their right to vote.

But, I will also be glad when tonight's ballots are counted and the cycle comes to an end.


Matthew Clark is the Editor of The Daily Courier. He can be reached at 828-202-2927 or emailed at Follow him on Twitter @UMass_MClark