The Raleigh News & Observer is a venerable paper with a long history of excellent investigative reporting and excellent voter education. In fact, I wasn’t too upset when the branch let drop its traditional voter guide for the county commissioners election — the paper would publish candidate profiles and more, just as in past years, right?
Well, I’m not so sure.
The paper is no longer locally owned, but was purchased by the McClatchy company a few years ago — a good syndicate, as syndicates go, but it does mean there are outside influences at work. Times are not happy in newsrooms these days — and the current storyline in Doonesbury hits a bit too close to home with the retirement of Pat Stith, longtime investigative reporter. The paper’s management seemed to be making the best of a bad economic situation, and while the paper on newsprint has been getting smaller and smaller the online resources were still there, weren’t they?
Well, maybe not.
In previous election cycles, I could go to newsobserver.com/elections or some such and find a well organized collection of resources – lists of candidates, candidate profiles, and more. Try to find that now… All I could get to was a blog-like listing of articles (sort of) related to the election. [Mea culpa. That’s probably what www.aauwnc.org looks like to someone who clicks on one of its categories. Has the blog paradigm so quickly destroyed more careful information architechture?] Looking for the backup on the endorsements they’ve already published on the county commissioners’ race turned up very little. [The early endorsement makes me wonder if they’ll be publishing their comprehensive voter guide the weekend before the election — or if they’re assuming that the change to early-voting will make that too little, too late, so not worth doing.]
Okay, it’s a complex election — president, senator, governor, and (weird as it is) nine members of the governor’s cabinet as well as the US House, state legislators, and local races. But has the paper really given up providing the kind of comprehensive coverage that it gave us in the past? And replaced it with things like triangle.com?
Note to self: beef up rwc.aauwnc.org with more election resources.