With Labor Day in the rearview mirror, you can expect the political season to kick into high gear with a flurry of TV ads and a constant flow of campaign mailers and candidates knocking on your door.
In the next two months leading up to the Nov. 8 election, the Springfield Daily Citizen will focus coverage on several local races for state Senate and House seats, as well ongoing coverage of the campaign for the 7th District U.S. House seat held by retiring Rep. Billy Long. Plus, we will continue coverage of the ballot initiative to legalize marijuana, and a citywide vote related to development efforts in the Galloway Village neighborhood.
For the U.S. Senate campaign, we will soon revive our Senate Campaign Digest, a weekly roundup of news about the race, helping local voters sort through all of the information available from the campaigns and other media. While we don’t have the resources to follow major party candidates around the state, this Monday digest is designed to give you insights and perspectives, and keep you informed on the key issues and developments in the race.
Here are the state House and Senate races we will be following:
- House District 132: Incumbent Democrat Crystal Quade, of Springfield, the House minority leader, is being challenged by Stephanos Freeman, of Springfield.
- House District 133: Filling the seat being vacated by Republican Curtis Trent, who is running for state Senate, are Republican Melanie Stinnett, of Springfield, and Democrat Amy Blansit, of Springfield.
- House District 134: Incumbent Republican Alex Riley, of Springfield, is being challenged by Democrat Samantha Deaton, of Battlefield.
- House District 135: Incumbent Democrat Betsy Fogle, of Springfield, is being challenged by Republican A.J. Exner, of Springfield.
- House District 136: Incumbent Republican Craig Fishel, of Springfield, is challenged by Democrat Stephanie Hein, of Springfield.
- State Senate District 30: Incumbent Republican Lincoln Hough, of Springfield, is being challenged by Democrat Raymond Lampert, Springfield. He is an attorney focused on employment law.
Daily Citizen is nonpartisan
One thing you will not see is anything remotely like an endorsement editorial by the staff or leadership of the Daily Citizen.
As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, the Daily Citizen is “prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office.”
We are allowed to provide voter education, including organizing or participating in forums, so long as they are conducted in a nonpartisan manner. We can encourage good citizenship, such as registering to vote and voting — again, so long as it is not favoring one candidate over another.
As a news organization, we may have columnists (such as Steve Pokin) who occasionally express opinions, and we are free to publish the opinions of others. We encourage letters to the editor and guest columns for our Voices section. You can read our policies here and use an online submission form to send us your letters.
COLUMN CONTINUES BELOW
Newspaper endorsements becoming rare
Many newspapers, including the Springfield News-Leader, have stopped endorsing candidates, and many have stopped writing local editorials, or publishing opinion pages, altogether. The News-Leader, reflecting direction from its corporate owners, has reduced its opinion page to once per week and rarely has a local editorial. This may be as much a reflection of the political times as it is a reflection of the reduced staffing levels at for-profit publications.
Traditionally, local newspapers viewed endorsements as part of the paper’s leadership role in the community. Newspaper leaders have more opportunities than most to meet and question candidates, and are in a position to analyze positions. Plus, editorials spark debate and generate readership.
Over time, though, the polarization in our country increasingly meant endorsements became a flashpoint. Depending on your choice, you were likely to alienate half or perhaps more of your readers.
Endorsements, as well as editorials in general, also fed into complaints of bias as most readers did not recognize — or were not convinced — that the newspaper’s reporters were truly independent of the positions taken by the editorial board.
Finally, and unfortunately, trust in the media is at all-time lows, according to research from the Knight Foundation and Gallup, with people citing bias and concerns about accuracy among the chief reasons.
As we put together our plans for the Daily Citizen, seeking nonprofit status removed any notion of endorsing candidates or taking public positions on key issues.
The Daily Citizen works for the community. It is run by local people and supported by local people and organizations. Our journalists are committed to telling the community’s stories in a nonpartisan, factual manner.
In the interest of transparency, one added note: while the Daily Citizen is nonpartisan, our unpaid board members are not prohibited from being involved in political affairs. As we have reported previously, Board Chairman and Publisher Thomas J. Carlson occasionally donates to and supports candidates for political offices. For example, he donated the maximum individual amount of $2,900 to the campaign of Republican Jay Wasson for the U.S. House, and he hosted a fundraiser for Wasson.
Carlson, a former Springfield mayor, has supported both Republican and Democratic candidates for various elections, as have other members of our board.
We do our best to disclose such support when relevant to our news stories. You can learn more about our board here, read our board’s conflict of interest policy here, read our complete staff ethics policy here, and learn about our funders and donor transparency policy here.
If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to me using the contact information below.