Thursday, May 07, 2009

On the campaign trail #1

* In response to comments made by mayoral candidate and Lucas County Commissioner Ben Konop, Mayor Carty Finkbeiner issued the following statement:

"Candidates for public office should never use human tragedy to further their political ambitions or agendas. Mr. Konop should be ashamed of himself."

Of course, never one to take his own advice, Finkbeiner did exactly that when he announced the suicide of a 'very good friend' in a Toledo park. He was trying to make a point about safety even during layoffs of police officers, saying that the mother of the man did not blame the suicide on a lack of police officers to patrol the park. Of course, the tragedy occurred in Maumee, not Toledo, but Carty should be 'ashamed of himself for using human tragedy to further his political ambition and agenda.'

* There's more evidence of bias from The Blade when it comes to headlines in the mayoral race. As I've previously documented, the lack of the candidate's name in the headline is a subtle bias designed to impact name ID and recognition. Here are the latest headlines and word counts for the most recent press conferences:

Konop sees savings in city-county office merger - 289 words (candidate Ben Konop, Democrat)

Bell says city needs business advocate
Mayoral candidate wants to cut red tape, rules - 294 words (candidate Mike Bell, Democrat running as an Independent)

Wilkowski criticizes city for $2.5M paid in severance - 523 words (candidate Keith Wilkowski, Democrat)

Toledo mayoral candidate focuses on livability - 270 words (candidate Jim Moody, Republican)

All stories included photos of the candidates, with photos of Moody, Bell and Konop being upper body shots of them talking and gesturing with their hands. Wilkowski's photo is a head shot with a dark background, so it looks portrait-like. And Wilkowski is smiling.

* I've not covered the city council races yet. It seems like every day there is a new candidate announcing their run for one of the seats. After the petitions are in and certified, I'll cover the candidates who will be on the ballot.

I'm encouraged at how many people are actually pulling petitions and think we may set a record for the number of contenders. I'm not surprised, though, by the number who want to run as an independent. I think the number of candidates indicates that people are not only tired of the current decisions being made by the people who hold those offices, but also tired of the same old party politics that have given us these incumbents.

4 comments:

Hooda Thunkit said...

Maggie,

Interesting...

Doesn't look like anyone will be accusing the blade of fair and balanced reporting anytime soon...

Of course they're going to make sure that their new puppet gets all the name recognition that they can muster.

Personally, I use it as a guide..., for who not to vote for.

Tim Higgins said...

Maggie,

The bias of the Blade and its editorial staff is undeniable, but there are far too many watchdogs out there (like yourself) calling them out as they continue to cross the line of good journalism.

You have to wonder however, how much the bias of the Blade will matter in the coming election, considering its continued diminishing circulation.

navyvet said...

The Blade is nothing if not consistent.

Jay Ott said...

There's no question about the Blade's bias towards Wilkowski.

I'm just not too sure that much of a case can be made on the basis of the photos even though photos can reveal bias and can also be used as a subtle means to manipulate the viewer.

First, only one photographer is credited. That usually means the uncredited photos were not provided by a Blade photographer since only staff and wire services get by-lines. Sometimes no photo credit means that the photo is a file photo.

Not knowing who the other photographers were, it is possible that the reason the Wilkowski photo is different than the others is due to the style of one of the photographers.

Second, from an editorial viewpoint, the photo of Wilkowski has no context (black background)while the photos of Moody, Konop and Bell are in a setting.

The most compelling photos should contain gesture, expression and setting.

These days, photos that have no context are generic. Smiling, portrait-like pictures are considered cliche that are to be avoided whenever possible.

All politics aside, the Wilkowski photo is the weakest in its story-telling ability and is the least interesting because it is a "one-look" picture.

Because the other pictures have more than one element in the scene, the viewer will spend more time trying to process the whole scene which contains more info.

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