Wick Communications

Owning election coverage

In Elections on October 2, 2014 at 2:43 pm
The doubletruck in the Half Moon Bay Review on Oct. 1, 2014.

The doubletruck in the Half Moon Bay Review on Oct. 1.

So I have a confession to make. We don’t always do such a bang-up job covering Half Moon Bay city elections. I know, I know. That should be our bread and butter.

Sometimes the issues bore me. There. I said it. But I bet I’m not alone. The endless sniping, the accusations of stolen campaign signs, the same dozen people worked up over things that don’t seem of much importance to the majority of readers. Making matters worse, campaign stories are nearly always art-challenged.

Well, this year we resolved to do a little better. The cornerstone of that effort is the doubletruck you see at the top of this post.

I sent an email to each of the candidates (and to make it more personal, I sent seven separate personalized appeals) asking for their brief answers to five questions swirling around the campaign. Why five? Because I thought it would fit in a six-column format. Duh.

I wrote up little bios and paired them with mugshots we took when each candidate came in for an endorsement interview. Staff writer Mark Noack wrote a longish overview of the issues facing the city and we broke it up with subheads. …

Publisher Bill Murray and I found some demographic information on the city. It was his idea to find out how many registered voters we have and how many of them actually vote. I scribbled what I had in mind on layout sheets and Bill brought it to life in InDesign.

It was a team effort and for that reason not at all overwhelming to any one of us.

I’m not necessarily suggesting you take this approach, just that you consider something new and attractive this election season. Maybe you conduct videos of interviews of the candidates. Maybe you host discussions of the issues at an area coffee shop. Maybe you make each candidate a guest editor of the editorial page for one edition. Don’t wait till it’s too late. In California anyway, many people vote by mail long before the polls close.

If you want to brainstorm ideas or want particulars on this approach, give me a call.

Clay

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