Tuesday, March 13, 2018

An Odd Choice

I’m a bit late in getting to this srticle in the Howard County Times:

16 candidates vie for Howard County Council seats (Kate Magill)

Dated March 5th, this piece does a good job at sorting out who everybody is and what they are running for. It’s Howard County. You can’t tell the players without a score card. And in this case it’s more than merely a score card, since some candidates come with complex backstories that take three entire paragraphs to sort out. Ms Magill does an excellent job articulating Janet Siddiqui’s complicated candidacy.

But then, at the end of the article, something odd happens. Suddenly it turns into an interview with outgoing council member Greg Fox. What the heck? In a piece that is 16 paragraphs long, Mr. Fox warrants 4 of them. That’s fully 25 per cent. Whether one is a fan of Mr. Fox or not, what is the rationale for allowing him to have the last word on the council race in the article?

Is it perhaps because he is the only one of the current council members not running for anything? Does that supposedly render him impartial in the upcoming election? (Spoiler: he isn’t.) The portion of the article dedicated to Mr. Fox might best be labeled “how Republicans want to define the upcoming local races in order to hammer Democrats.” He’s certainly entitled to his opinion, and I’m sure there are others who share it.

But without such a clear label his words stand alone as some kind of an authoritative declaration on the race. There is nothing else in the article to balance his views. I find that odd.

Reporter Kate Magill has been doing an amazing job doing the work of several people. This blog post is not meant to pick on her. We need local journalists. We are lucky to have Ms. Magill. I’m just puzzled by this particular journalistic choice.

Should there be another voice in this article? Who would you choose?

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