A panel of current and previous candidates discuss newspaper campaign coverage from the candidates' perspective at Down-home Democracy, a local election coverage workshop hosted at the Reynolds Journalism Institute Jan. 30-Feb. 1, 2014.

10 tips from the candidates:

  • If you normally record interviews for note-taking purposes, ask the candidate in advance for permission to record the interview. The candidate will rarely say no, especially since the recording will verify their quotes.
  • Meet or speak with council and board members before their public meetings to learn about government processes and get background on specific agenda items. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. A lack of understanding about processes can lead to mistakes.
  • If your local government leaders are required to attend trainings in preparation for their elected roles, see if you can attend the same training as well. This will help you understand the rules and requirements of governments and learn how boards and councils operate. If candidates are required to attend trainings before running for office, see if you can attend that training, too.
  • Learn the basics of government accounting, which differs from business accounting.
  • Always fact-check a story before it runs. Once a story is published with incorrect information, it’s a challenge for candidates to undo the damage.
  • Scrutinize agendas and attend board meetings in search of hidden gems that could become community-interest stories. Even though the item might not seem front-page-worthy, ask yourself: Is this something the community still needs to know?
  • If there’s a chance a candidate’s response to one of your questions could be misunderstood, rephrase the question.
  • Write about amendments and propositions that are on the ballot. Citizens should be informed about these issues, too.
  • Write stories about the candidates that also show their personal side.
  • Always ask "Am I fairly covering both sides?"

 Done here? Go back to tip sheets and presentations, or head to the event page.


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