SMART DECISION: Covering State Races
Columbia, Mo. – It’s no surprise this is a fast-paced time for political reporters. For politicos, winning election season coverage is your chance to earn your paycheck. But between live shots, pressers, and scandalous rumors, journalists sometimes forget their duty: informing voters so they can make a smart decision.
Many everyday viewers would argue there’s plenty of political coverage in the news. However, I’ve noticed a significant gap in reporting on state races. It may be hard to believe there’s a lack of coverage since the state capitol is in mid-Missouri, but its sometimes difficult for reporters here to cover races like the one for Sen. Claire McCaskill’s, D-Missouri, seat. With many of McCaskill’s opponents spending time campaigning in their hometowns or in Kansas City or St. Louis, we tend to miss what they are saying. It’s our to job to verify their words and inform people of their platforms. I was troubled when I realized there were stories myself and other mid-Mo journalists were missing just because the candidates weren’t physically in our coverage area.
In response to what I saw as a shortfall, I pitched the idea of establishing a weekly “Smart Decision” report on KOMU’s Sunday 10 p.m. broadcast. The segment compiles a week’s worth of top-notch political news to keep people informed of what the candidates are up to. We already do an excellent job of covering the legislature with our newly-improved state capitol newsroom, but I saw the need to step up our state election coverage.
Putting the segment together presents its own unique challenges. Viewers tend to be less interested in national candidates, but its journalists’ jobs to make sure there is an equal balance between what people want to know and what people need to know.
I’m looking forward to keeping this segment going throughout campaign season. I graduate in May, so there’s a slim chance I’ll see it through to November. If just one mid-Mo voter remembers something from our segment when they head to the polls, it’ll be a success.