a snapshot of how to cover an election campaign

I love this column/how-to guide for political reporters, written by Graham Thomson at The Journal. If I were to sum up the basic tips everyone should take from this:

  1. To get a real snapshot of an election campaign, don’t call ahead.
  2. Do show up, do ask to speak to the candidate, and do be patient enough to wait out the volunteers as necessary.
  3. If being hustled out the door, ask campaign volunteers for directions to the other campaign office.

Seriously, as someone who has traipsed after politicians as they knocked on the doors of “cherry-picked” neighbourhoods (my most memorable example is following Rahim Jaffer’s campaign in 2008, although in fairness Edmonton-Strathcona is a deeply divided riding), I think Graham’s tips belong in everyone’s toolbox.

Of course, this plan of action is better suited to columnists than news reporters. Journalists don’t line up interviews in campaign offices or pre-arrange door-knocking tag-alongs in order to make nice with politicians; we generally have deadlines to meet, and little opportunity to opine in print.

Nonetheless, love it.

In other news on news, the Canadian Association of Journalists just published this open letter to journalists, which demands attention.

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