A major concern from a minor party

What the Daily’s election guide lacked in breadth, it made up for in its depth.

Tim Franzen

Intending to inform the voters, the Daily’s staff has received some very harsh and unwarranted criticism.

In the first Daily of the month, the policy desk in the newsroom published an election guide.

People have been flooding Jim Hammerand, the policy desk editor, and Anna Weggel, the editor in chief, with angry e-mails and phone calls. Most of these have been in regards to the exclusion of the Green Party.

Some people are outraged at the “undemocratic behavior” the Daily exhibited by excluding a former major party from its discussion of candidates.

The rhetoric is compelling. Third-party candidates often represent a vote of change to the entrenched political parties.

They operate without millions of dollars and outside of the media spotlight thrust upon Democrats and Republicans.

All they want is some attention, and if candidates are on the ballot, the voters should know something about all of them.

The election guide was published with the intent to inform voters to the best of the staff’s ability about the candidates’ real positions on issues.

But the Daily is a completely student-run newspaper. It lacks the staff and the resources necessary to cover every political candidate in a meaningful way.

The Daily’s staff had a choice: Inform the public about all the political candidates superficially or exclude some parties in order to cover some of the candidates better.

It was quantity vs. quality, and the editors chose quality. The editors decided to cover only major political parties and exclude all minor parties.

The major political parties in Minnesota are currently the Republican Party, the DFL Party and the Independence Party. Majority status is given to parties that fulfill certain obligations, one of which is that the party must have received at least 5 percent of the vote in the previous election.

Minor parties include the Green Party, the Constitution Party, the Quit Raising Taxes Party, the American Party and more.

To include the Green Party and exclude any other party with candidates would not be fair.

It would elevate the Green Party above the other minority parties for no legitimate reason.

Some have pointed out that the two major Twin Cities newspapers both included many third-party candidates in their election guides. But these critics should know we simply can’t compare to the resources of the major metropolitan newspapers.

The Star Tribune was able to publish a 60-page voters’ guide and the Daily published a 10-pager. While the full-time Star Tribune staff was putting together its voters’ guide, many of our part-time reporters were sitting in classes.

The Daily staff recognized its limitations. So the newsroom here tried to deliver something you couldn’t get in the other papers.

The Daily’s election guide featured interviews with candidates. Reporters actually spoke with the people, asked targeted questions and received real answers.

The Star Tribune published 100-word essays submitted by the candidates. In this way, the Daily’s election guide was far superior to the other papers’ election guides. What the guide lacked in breadth, it made up for in its depth.

While it is unfortunate that the Daily could not cover every political party, the Daily acted in a completely fair way. Democracy was served with the Daily’s election guide, not tarnished.

I encourage everyone to visit www.politics1.com/mn.htm and get some information on the third-party candidates that the Daily was unable to feature.

Tim Franzen is the Reader’s Representative.
He welcomes comments at [email protected]