Political candidate interview season

April 2, 2014 by Brad McElhinny

This week we resume a tradition at the Charleston Daily Mail — candidate interviews.

Each election season, Daily Mail editors and reporters meet with candidates for contested statewide offices and for races in Kanawha and Putnam counties. (There are probably more races that are of interest to our readers, but there are only so many of us and only so much available time.)

There are two purposes:

  • To get a sense of the candidates and make endorsements.
  • And to inform the public about the candidates and their positions, whether the candidate winds up being endorsed or not.

voteEach day over a few weeks, editors and a reporter gather around a table with candidates from the various races. Usually we begin with a general introduction and move on to questions — some broad and some specific. This is not exactly like “Meet the Press.” Some of the answers perform loop-the-loops and some of the questions might not be fully on point. Sometimes the conversations wander around like a family dinner chat.

Traditionally, the reporter who covers the session cobbles portions of the candidates’ responses into a story for the newspaper. These are helpful to readers and voters but they can be challenging to write because there is no way to convey the full group conversation within the confines of a short newspaper story.

A couple of years ago, we started asking reporters to live blog the meetings on our website. This helped to provide a broader picture of the conversation and also swept away a little bit of the mystery of the meeting processes.

Then we got the notion to add livestreaming video to what we were doing. Now those most interested in the election could follow along live — or go back and watch later. Don’t be too impressed by the technology of this — we are not pro videographers. Our images are small, shaky and blurry. And sometimes it’s hard to hear. Still, it seems like a worthwhile effort to give citizens an insight into the candidates, the questions they’re asked and the responses they give.



Leave a Reply