It is the day before the first primary debate of the 2020 campaign, and we respectfully ask you to keep a few things in mind as you write your candidate stories:
Give us information that helps us, the voters, understand what kind of president the candidates would be. Don’t shape the conversation to push us towards or away from candidates based on your own opinion.
Pay attention to your vocabulary. You know better than most how powerful words are. Are you treating men and women similarly? What about our candidates of color? How will you check to make sure your biases aren’t showing up in your choice of words?
We are not interested in winners and losers at this stage. Leave the horse race in the editing room. Remember, you don’t get to tell us who is electable or not. That’s our job.
Leave the coverage of zingers or testy interactions between candidates out of your stories. Enough of that will happen naturally on social media; you don’t need to pile on.
We are not interested in a thousand stories to cover trivia or trumped up (sorry) controversies. We are most definitely NOT interested in what the president has to say about any of our candidates. Please do not frame your stories using his words or insults.
Instead, focus on the issues and what solutions they are bringing to the table. Tell us more about their qualifications and what is known about their leadership ability. Write about what they have accomplished in their careers–political or otherwise–that will help each of us determine for ourselves if they are the candidate we want to see in the White House.
Let’s be honest, you got a lot wrong during the 2016 cycle. That said, we recognize you play a critically important role in our democracy and it’s really, really important that you do it well this time. Please get it right.
We The Voters