Though the comments following this story left me wondering if those readers understood (or even read) what reporter Steve Gardner put together to explain the ongoing election saga to replace Jay Inslee, a public policy group in Minnesota did acknowledge his good work this week.
Steve wasn’t first to this week’s explanation of how the cost of the 1st District’s special election is calculated through the reimbursement to King, Kitsap and Snohomish counties because of some legal wording. (On Monday Peter Callahan of the News Tribune had it here, and Jim Brunner of the Seattle Times here.) But, according to The Election Academy at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, Gardner went all tortoise on their hare and explained the story the best. They noted his work — which the Secretary of State’s office circulated by email around the state on Wednesday — as an example of a journalist being “part of the election profession.”
That’s a nice compliment given the time Steve and others in here spend each year covering campaigns through candidate profiles, examining the issues, conducting editorial board interviews with office hopefuls and building other online resources for voters and readers — which will be particularly time-consuming this year, given the number and importance of races.
And speaking of the confluence of elections and Steve Gardner, it’s a good time to share that he’s being honored in a second way this month for some political prowess. Steve was recently selected to participate in a Washington, D.C. conference put on by the Sunlight Foundation, which will focus on covering Super PACs in the election process. He’ll join 30 others, including names from the L.A. Times, Crain’s Chicago Business, The Orlando Sentinel, Moyers & Company, and USA Today, for a two-day symposium on understanding and reporting on the special interest groups known as political action committees.
But back to my point, which was, “Nice work, Steve.” We don’t stop and take stock of how professional reporting affects the election process often enough, particularly the internicene mechanics that consume an auditor but may bore (or anger, if explained incorrectly) the average voter. We just did that, and very well. Below is the email I sent out to the Sun newsroom:
Gardner gets a pat on the back from an organization at the University of Minnesota that follows election news: http://blog.lib.umn.edu/cspg/electionacademy/2012/04/journalism_ftw_reporter_nails.php
Here’s my favorite part: “…at least one reporter – The Kitsap Sun’s Steve Gardner – dug into the law (and the numbers) and filed a story that is staggeringly detailed and incredibly valuable in understanding the issues at hand.”
That’s a pretty nice compliment about Steve’s work in explaining a complicated story to our readers, and a good reminder of how important it is that we keep explaining wonky (and sometimes dry) processes in these days of sound-bite election coverage. As I’m writing this Steve’s explaining it to Jim Campbell again, just to illustrate how difficult it can be to understand all of this. So that tells you something about the time Steve has invested into this story. Well done.