Covering elections is terrifyingly important

February 25, 2012|Bill Kohler

Elections scare me. Terrify me.

That’s because I’m a local-news editor.

However, as a resident, parent, homeowner, taxpayer and interested observer, I love elections.

As an editor, local elections present extra hours at the office, additional planning, more stories to make room for and lots of time tracking down information, headshots (photos) and DOBs (dates of birth for candidates).

Elections also create extra work for our reporters — from writing preview stories and issues stories to working into the wee hours on primary and general election nights.

As a regular card-carrying taxpayer and red-blooded American, however, I love to follow (at least from a distance) the silly season of national and local politics.

I have people I want to see elected and people I think would do the best job if elected.

As a regular guy, I do my research and read the fine print as much as I can before I go to the polling place.

So in a sense, I’m working for me during the election season.

At The Herald-Mail, we take pride in our election coverage. We devote a lot of time and resources to it — even if it does occasionally terrify an editor from time to time.

Part of the reason I get so anxious and a little deer-in-the-headlights is because it is one of the most important things we do in the news business.

Our coverage of this sacred electoral process needs to be complete, fair and unbiased.

It needs to be accurate and relevant — especially when we’re talking about local elections.

As I’ve stated before: Local elections matter way more than national and even statewide ones.

A local school board director and county commissioner will have so much more of an impact on you and your wallet than a U.S. senator and president.

This is not to say that you shouldn’t keep your eye on what Republican candidate gets propped up against the president for the run at the White House this year. By all means, our country needs a lot of work, and healthy political banter could lead to something helpful. Maybe.

To this end, here’s what you can expect from The Herald-Mail as we steam into a year filled with primaries, debates and yes, accusations and finger-pointing — complete, balanced and accurate reporting.

Primaries in our three states will be interesting and competitive. Maryland’s primary is April 3, Pennsylvania’s is April 24 and West Virginia’s is May 8.

In Tri-State, we’ve been running candidate profiles for the top races and will continue to do so. In Washington County, profiles and previews will commence soon.

In case you’ve missed any, all of the profiles and stories from our election coverage will find a home at in the coming weeks. We published a comprehensive section on our website a few years ago and we’re planning for the 2012 edition to be bigger and better.

If you have any suggestions or ideas about our election coverage in Pennsylvania or West Virginia, email me at

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