Chatham County’s reputation as having a highly engaged electorate — and its consistent record of high voter turnout — says a lot about the people here and how we value the democratic process.
We care about governance and politics, and we pay attention to the people who serve the public trust. We hold them accountable and thrust high expectations upon them — and we let them know when we’re not satisfied with how they handle the responsibility of public service.
We care here at the News + Record, too. With an important election cycle upon us, and a critical state legislative race and county-wide races among the items on November’s ballot, we want to share with you, as we begin our coverage, how we’ll approach bringing you the best and most comprehensive information about the candidates and the issues.
You can get lots of information through a web search and maybe even on some candidates’ Facebook pages. But we take pride in advocating for one main thing: Solid, nonpartisan information about the candidates and the issues that’ll guide you in making your voting decisions.
So here’s how we’ll cover the 2022 elections:
Our candidate questionnaires will be sent via email to party chairpersons and candidates this week. We’re giving candidates a short window to complete the relatively short questionnaire; we’ll post full responses to questions online and highlight key questions and responses in print.
We’ve designed the questionnaires to be as comprehensive as possible. We know that written responses to a set of questions aren’t always enough to judge candidates, but it’s a good representative snapshot and puts candidates and their responses “on the record.” We’re giving candidates a fairly tight window to respond, but still plenty of time; if a candidate doesn’t return the questionnaire by the deadline, he or she will be on record as “did not respond” in both our online and print presentation of questions and answers.
In addition to the questionnaires, we’ll be interviewing individual candidates for our coverage, which will include short individual profiles and office- and issue-based stories. As frequently as possible, we’ll bring candidates in for recorded interviews on “The Chatcast,” our free podcast, to which you can listen on the go. (Our hope is to also bring opposing candidates in together for those conversations, as much as possible.)
We’re working on planning two candidate forums in partnership with the Chatham Chamber of Commerce and Central Carolina Community College. One is set for Thursday, Oct. 20; we’ll be announcing the other date soon. The public forums will be a highly-structured Q&A with the candidates and also give those in contested races a chance to ask each other questions.
We’ll also promote transparency in the process, and by extension, provide stories about how voting in Chatham County works — as well as a look at the people who are responsible for ensuring a smooth, integrity-based voting experience. (Related to that, this week we have a report from a regional event in Lee County held last week focusing on a new kind of poll observer training.)
There are some things we’re not going to do. For example: We won’t cover candidate events (particularly fundraisers) or party-specific events. A number of small candidate forums are also planned by other organizations; it’s highly likely we won’t cover those but instead focus on our forums and our own conversations with candidates.
We won’t be a party to misinformation or disinformation. If a candidate speaks untruths or shares incorrect information, we’ll point that out and provide details about why. As a part of that, we’ll be asking each candidate his or her opinion on the stubbornly persistent, but factually incorrect, claim that the 2020 presidential election was “stolen” from then-President Donald Trump, and that Joe Biden in fact did not win that election.
We don’t plan to write candidate endorsement editorials. There may be a rare case — as with the “Unity 2022” candidates in Siler City’s municipal races this past spring — where an editorial endorsement is warranted, but we don’t anticipate that this go-round.
Rather, it’s our sincere hope that full and complete coverage — in print, and online, in front of our website’s “paywall” — will give you the information you need to do your duty: make an informed, intelligent choice when you cast your ballot.
We appreciate the trust our readers show in us. And we recognize there’s a lot of bias against the media when it comes to elections and politics because we’ve all seen biased reporting. It’s our goal to be comprehensive and factual and without bias toward any candidate or party — and to give you the best information possible to help you decide your votes.
Your votes count. We hope you’ll count on us as we head toward November. Let us know how we’re doing by writing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bill Horner III is the publisher and editor of the News + Record.