In this era of three-dimensional networks and collaborative platforming (my goofy new-economy jargon for today's trendy notions about disrupting 20th century models with a more collective approach), I set out to publish a mayor's race super endorsement—one from all the local politics beat writers in the city who've been trudging to forums, covering the race relentlessly for 10 months now. The endorsement, I believed, would transcend the different media brands in town, and offer an authentic and compelling macro endorsement for mayor.
I contacted more than 10 local, objective-y reporters from separate media outlets and asked each one to tell me who they're voting for—incumbent Mayor Mike McGinn or his challenger, Seattle state Sen. Ed Murray—after covering and interviewing them day-to-day all year.
I swore to keep everyone anonymous and planned to either tell readers the percentage for each candidate—or better yet, hoping an undeniable consensus emerged, I'd announce the Beat Reporter Collective's choice for mayor.
"No dice," to quote one stodgy reporter who guards their neutrality like it's their debit card PIN number.
One reporter did send me a thoughtful, and sincerely tortured, email saying they were honestly "undecided," and I believed them. But mostly, the respsonses I got were mum on reporters' personal picks.
You can be an objective reporter and still have an opinion. In fact, being an objective reporter leads you to having an opinion.
I've always been bothered by the endorsement process at dailies like the Seattle Times, where their excellent beat reporters are segregated from the endorsement process; after all, those are the people at the Times who have the most knowledge about the candidates and the issues.
You can be an objective reporter and still have an opinion. In fact, being an objective reporter leads you to having an opinion. Neutral reporters are actually committed to finding the right answer rather than to the false equivalency of he said/she said reporting. (That's why the L.A. Times recently made its decision not to run letters from climate change deniers anymore.)
Oh well. My idea of a cross-platform super endorsement fell flat.
(I'll try for it again next year because I think my news colleagues will eventually come around to the idea of trumping our editors and our brands.)
Watch for Seattle Met's endorsements on the newsstand later this week.