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My Turn: Reporters should cover issues, not candidates

Last modified: 11/12/2015 12:38:02 AM
I must agree with Ben Carson and the Republicans who have complained about the campaign coverage and its focus on “gotcha” questions and personal histories. Candidates are also to blame, however, for running simply on platitudes and avoiding specifics.

The national media outlets assign a reporter to a candidate to follow that candidate around and report on what the day’s events have been. Political roadies. No research needed. Instead, the press should assign a reporter to a single policy topic to create specific questions on that topic for all candidates – important questions related to the future of the country they want to preside over.

Do you support continuation of ethanol requirements for gasoline? Must Congress vote a declaration of war to place any troops in Syria to fight ISIS? As president, will you support full funding for special education as originally promised decades ago? What plan do you have to dispose of the nuclear waste now at power plants around the country? Should any federal lands be sold or national parks be closed? Which ones? Do you support allowing bitcoin to be used to pay taxes? Should both sugar subsidies and solar power generation subsidies be ended?

I have not seen these kinds of questions being asked. I think too many reporters find it easier to ask about past personal history than future policy options. It would require them to know what the range of options is. Of course, the candidates are likely to complain and provide non-answers. But then the reporter’s job should be to write a story saying “Candidate X refused to answer my policy questions.” That would be better than candidates complaining that they aren’t being asked about policy.

(Doug Hall lives in Chichester.)


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