An informed electorate is a better electorate

Ken Vance Editorial Clarkcountytoday.com

If you’re voting; take the time to be informed and make up your own mind

Like most of you, I like to go to a movie theater from time to time and when I do, it’s often with one particular friend who I believe has become frustrated with me because with each passing year, I find fewer and fewer movies that pique my interest.

My friend often tries to manufacture my interest in a particular movie by bringing up a positive review that he had read about the film in question. I’ve reminded him many times, I place no importance whatsoever in what some critic thinks about a movie. I have found over the years there is absolutely no correlation between what a review says about a movie and whether or not I will enjoy it.

I’m even less impacted when it comes to endorsements of political candidates. In my lifetime, I have never made a single determination of a candidate’s worthiness based upon an endorsement. Ironically, I believe that I have in the past soured on a candidate based upon his or her endorsements. A link to the wrong individual or organization can be a deathblow to someone seeking election.

As a journalist, I don’t recall ever reporting an endorsement of a candidate in a story or column. I really couldn’t care less who is supporting, or not supporting, a candidate. When I receive a press release announcing an endorsement, or a profile that includes a list of endorsements, sorry but I couldn’t possibly dismiss them quicker.

When it comes to politics, I detest what I call the herd mentality. It never ceases to amaze me how large numbers of voters, or citizens, can join together for a common opinion that is based on nothing more than an uninformed perception created solely by popular opinion.

I really don’t spend a great deal of time discussing politics, local or national, with others. I think the biggest reason is that I know there’s very little chance I’m going to be influenced by the opinion of others, particularly those who aren’t very well informed, and I’ve never had a strong desire to shape the ideology of others. I respect their right to make and hold onto their own position.

That said, when others force their political agenda on me in conversation, I love to question the facts and circumstances that has served as the basis for their position or opinion. Far more often than not, there is no substantive reason for their perception of a candidate. They just regurgitate some publicly held belief that has been formed and spread despite the absence of credible evidence or information and they are unable to provide me with answers to my questions about how their perceptions were formed.

I don’t believe journalists should attempt to influence an election. That is why I have never endorsed a candidate in my career and I don’t plan to start the practice at anytime in the future. If I revealed to you who I thought you should vote for, how could you accept anything I wrote about the candidates in question as objective or unbiased?

When I was a reporter and later editor at The Reflector Newspaper, we made every effort to provide equal coverage to all candidates that we reported on. For example, if possible, we would run the candidate profile stories of each on the same page and the stories would essentially be the same length. And, we wouldn’t run a photo of one and not the other.

Here at ClarkCountyToday.com, we have made every effort to be fair to each of the candidate’s in the races we have profiled. We often achieved that by covering the candidate forum’s where the candidates were asked the same questions side-by-side. Photos and video coverage were presented as equally as possible.

News organizations ask readers to differentiate between opinion and news content but even to a trained eye, those lines have been blurred in recent years as the journalism industry has downsized and evolved. But, some news organizations don’t even attempt to remain impartial.

In recent years here in Clark County, I have, in shock and amazement, witnessed (professed) journalists who have pounded their chests while claiming to have influenced the outcome of an election. That is absolutely unbelievable to me that they would first attempt to influence an election, but then crow about it after the fact. Is that what our industry has become?

I hope you have voted in next week’s general election, or will before Tuesday. Even more importantly, I hope you took the time to be informed rather than allowing yourself to be influenced by any individual, or group of individuals (the herd). We will all be better off if you did.

We'd love to hear your comments!
Spread the love
  •  
  • 1
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
    1
    Share
CCT – Coming Soon

About The Author

mm

Ken Vance got his start in the newspaper industry in 1987 as a reporter at The Columbian Newspaper in Vancouver. Vance graduated from Stevenson High School in Stevenson, WA, and attended Clark College in Vancouver. He worked for The Columbian from 1987-2001. He was most recently a staff member of The Reflector Newspaper in Battle Ground, where he served as editor since 2010 and reporter since 2007. Vance’s work in the newspaper industry has won him multiple awards, including a first place award from the Society of Professional Journalists for in-depth reporting.

Related posts