Our next federal election is coming up in a few short months. That means for journalists, it’s crunch time.
It also means that political parties are shaping their communications strategies, planning how to get their messages out and frame the national conversation to serve their agendas.
Too often news reporting plays along by just reporting on polls, covering candidate outrages and treating the whole exercise as a spectator sport. “The horserace approach,” as many editors eagerly call it.
Voters deserve better. How do those who never have a chance to have a direct conversation with candidates and party leaders get their concerns on the agenda?
As an independent, reader-funded publication, we’ve decided to seek those concerns from you, and use them as our guide to covering this year’s election. Today, we’re asking for your help in creating The Tyee’s election reporting plan.
Every investigation, explainer and expose begins with questions. So tell us yours. What do you want candidates to be discussing as they compete for votes?
Share it with our journalists by scrolling down and filling out our one-question survey.
We were inspired, in part, by an idea that’s over 25 years old. In 1992, the newsroom of the Charlotte Observer in the United States took a similar approach in crafting what they called The Citizen’s Agenda (read more about that here).
Our agenda achieves a few things: It helps keep our editors and journalists focused during the whirlwind of election season. It helps us deliver on our mission to do in-depth reporting on issues that matter to our readers that goes beyond the daily news cycle. And it gives us a better chance of creating stories that will be well read.
Here’s our plan for working together. We’ll be collecting your questions until Sunday, May 26. Then, our editorial team will look through all responses to get a refined sense of what’s important to our readers, and look for questions that we’re well positioned to tackle.
Then, we’ll share a list of the questions and ask you, our readers, to rate these questions by level of interest. The result will be a short list of questions that we will assign to reporters to pursue over the next few months.
A note on how to formulate your answers. A clear, assignable topic or question might start with something like this:
What can be done to fix…
Who are the key players behind…
What are the parties’ positions on…
What has been the human and financial cost of the policy to…
Who are some exciting voices on issues like...
Questions that start like that tend to be clear, answerable and broad enough for some exploration.
Let’s not let politicos, special interest spinners and disconnected media ruin the conversation our democracy desperately needs to have this election. Help citizens take back control of the narrative. Help shape our election reporting by filling out our quick form.
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