Report to Readers: Unfair to Romney! Unfair to Obama! Unfair! Unfair!
Boy, when you get to the end of a close election campaign, readers are on the lookout for any hint of unfairness in our political coverage. Consider these half-dozen complaints I’ve received in recent hours, and see what you think:
*From an Obama fan at the polls in Concord at lunchtime: The Monitor showed its pro-Romney bias by publishing an enormous photograph of the Republican presidential candidate on the morning of the election. A more neutral cover was in order.
The Mitt Romney photograph was taken at his campaign rally in Manchester Monday evening – an event that drew thousands of supporters. It made the front page on Election Day because Romney – unlike President Obama – was in New Hampshire on Monday.
*From a Romney supporter who attended the Manchester event: The Monitor showed its pro-Obama bias by publishing that Romney photo without an accompanying story about the rally.
The Romney rally was held late Monday night. Romney wasn’t even scheduled to start speaking until 11 p.m. That’s pushing it for our staff! Publishing the photo seemed like a good compromise.
*From a Romney supporter in Bow: The Monitor showed its pro-Obama bias in its coverage of the president’s rally with Bill Clinton in Concord over the weekend: three stories and numerous photographs.
No doubt that was big play – but consider the historic nature of the event: It was the biggest crowd for a political event in Concord in recent memory. It was the president of the United States sharing a stage with a former president of the United States. That’s big!
*From a website commenter this morning: The Monitor showed its pro-Democratic bias by covering the early, early voting in Hart’s Location today but not the voting in Dixville Notch.
Frankly, I thought Alexander Cohn’s decision to schlep all the way up north with his camera for the middle-of-the-night action was a little cockamamie – a fun assignment, perhaps, but exhausting on the eve of a long, hard day. Still, we’ve written a lot about Dixville over the years but had never been to Hart’s Location for an election. Plus, Dixville wasn’t even voting in its historic ballot room because the Balsams resort is closed. So, Hart’s Location it was.
For the record: In Hart’s Location, the voters went for Obama for president. In Dixville Notch, the AP reports, Obama and Romney tied at five votes apiece.
*From a group of campaign volunteers from the Lakes Region: The Monitor showed its pro-Republican bias by rejecting their letters to the editor supporting Democratic congressional candidate Carol Shea-Porter.
The letters – along with nearly 100 others – were rejected but only because we had run out of time and space for election letters! The volume of mail over the past several weeks was unprecedented, and we sure have published a ton of them. But once the Opinion pages for the weekend and Monday newspapers were set, we had no choice but to reject the others still pouring in via email. (They’re pouring in still!)
*From a letter-writer from New London: The Monitor is helping President Obama’s campaign by burying news about Sandy and the storm cleanup in New York and New Jersey. (You can read the letter here.)
We’ve published numerous stories about Sandy over the past several days but, yes, after the first couple days they have mostly appeared inside the newspaper rather than on the front page.
Our front-page decisions are driven first and foremost by local news. Our goal is to highlight those stories of greatest interest and concern to Concord-area residents and those stories they won’t find elsewhere. In other words, local news nearly always takes priority. And in the days since Sandy, there has certainly been plenty of local news to keep us busy.
All six of these decisions are subjective, of course. Different editors, different newspapers might have made different decisions.
In any case, the election is now in your hands. If you’ve not yet voted, there’s still time.