New York Newspapers's Responsibilty For Voter Turnout
There will be three Special Elections for City Council on Tuesday and I’m willing to guess that very few voters who are not active in politics are even aware of them.
And one major reason is the failure of the three major New York City daily newspapers to report on the elections or to editorialize in support of any of the candidates.
I haven’t read every paper cover to cover in the last month but I have read a lot and I do not recall reading a word about these elections in the Times or Post. The Daily News has printed some stories in the middle of the paper in the Boroughs section. The Times has not even mentioned the elections in its’ Sunday City section, which this week did publish stories about electric cigars, bedbugs and Hop Obama beer.
The papers did not interview any of the candidates and did not endorse anyone and did not even publish something to urge people to vote. But the Times did urge the Supreme Court to rule in favor of Navajo Indians, the Post speculated about the future of Illinois Senator Roland Burris and the News urged Hugo Chavez to change his way.
It’s not like these elections are not newsworthy. The results of the elections could increase the number of African-Americans on the City Council by two and/or boost the number of Republicans from two to three. In two of the districts, candidates endorsed by the outgoing Councilman are running and in the third, the similarly endorsed candidate was thrown off the ballot.
People are always wondering why voter turnout in New York is so low. One reason I believe is the failure of the NY media, particularly the three dailies to report on local elections.
Voters don’t vote if they don’t know there is an election!
When the turnout for these three elections is announced by the Board of Elections and they average 5-10%, I hope none of the papers will then pontificate about voter apathy.