The E.W. Scripps Company will once again offer heightened election coverage in all of its 13 television markets, and will provide free air time to qualified candidates in the 30 days prior to the general election and on an as-needed basis 30 days prior to primary elections. The program is called Democracy 2012.
Scripps stations include ten ABC-affiliated stations, WXYZ in Detroit; KMGH in Denver; KGTV in San Diego; KERO in Bakersfield, Calif.; WCPO in Cincinnati; WEWS in Cleveland; WRTV in Indianapolis; WFTS in Tampa, Fla.; WMAR in Baltimore; and KNXV in Phoenix; and three NBC-affiliated stations, WPTV in West Palm Beach, Fla.; KSHB in Kansas City, Mo.; and KJRH in Tulsa, Okla.
“Because it is consistent with our vision that we ‘give light and the people will find their own way,’ I’m proud that Scripps began giving free airtime to candidates many years ago,” said Brian Lawlor, senior vice president of the Scripps television division. “And I’m glad to see many broadcasters undertaking similar efforts this year to make politicians’ stances on issues well known. At Scripps, political education and discourse are a centerpiece of our local news presentation. In one of the most crucial election cycles in our lifetimes, we’re going to marinate our audience in political coverage so they’ll make fully informed choices when it comes time to vote.”
Scripps has been making air time available to candidates in every election cycle going back to 2000.
Scripps offered highlights of its election plans for 2012:
* The Scripps television stations in Tampa, the site of the Republican National Convention, and West Palm Beach, Fla., teamed up with Scripps newspapers in Naples, Fla. and the state’s Treasure Coast to provide an online portal for voters in the Sunshine State that is unmatched by any other media company.
* The battleground state of Florida always is a pivotal state for the presidential election, and features a competitive senatorial race in 2012 as well. Voters can click on www.fldemocracy2012.com to get everything they need to connect to the political process, including information on candidates’ positions, voter registration information and maps of political jurisdictional
* Voters feel connected when they have a chance to interact with candidates, and each of the Scripps television brands is making that possible with an “Ask the Candidates” element to online election coverage. These elements will be specialized Web features that invite candidates to answer questions related to local political races. Online users can submit their own questions, compare candidates’ answers, and participate in online discussions.
* “Get out the vote” public service announcements will receive priority clearance in each station’s public service inventory during the 30-day period prior to the primary and general elections.
* Scripps stations will concentrate editorially on exploring key local issues during each of the 30 days leading up to the general election. Station leadership, through an interactive process with local individuals and citizen groups, will develop election coverage that is unmatched.
* Scripps stations will pursue special programming such as town hall meetings and debates during the 30 days leading up to the general election. Scripps is partnering with the Center for Responsive Politics to offer Web-based, searchable databases that allow voters to research campaign contributions and follow the money trail from the sources all the way to the beneficiaries.
* The Scripps Howard News Service in Washington, D.C. is expanding to provide more election material specific to local markets. Scripps will have a new team in place this year to focus on political investigations, such as the tracking of campaign finances.
RBR-TVBR observation: Speaking simply as a citizen of this great democracy, we get very discouraged when just about the only campaign material we see on television comes in the form of advertisements – which often are short on information and long on distortion. We applaud Scripps for assuring that better information makes it onto the airwaves, and encourage all broadcasters to follow suit.