February 20, 2006
Why bother?

I've complained many a time about the Chron's piss-poor coverage of local races. Seeing the half-assed, apathetic stories they have today on the Senate and Congressional primaries does nothing to change my opinion of their efforts. Look at how little useful information there is in these stories. Do you know anything more about any of these candidates than you did before? If this is going to be the only freaking story you write during the entire freaking campaign, why can't you at least ask the candidates some questions and then print their full answers? You know, do some actual interviews. You can even ask the incumbents to join in answering them, where appropriate. Who knows, we might learn something. If there's not enough room in your news hole for the full interview, then give a teaser in print and put the rest of it on your website. Why is this so hard?

And while I'm in rant mode here, do we not understand the distinction between a candidate who is actually campaigning for an office, and a candidate who has done and will do nothing but pay his filing fee? Again I ask, what purpose is being served?

For all of the good work the Chron has done with blogs, their lack of any bloglike coverage of campaigns (something which both the Statesman and the Express News have done with decent success) is never more glaring an oversight than when lousy stories like these hit the pages. Even if today's efforts weren't journalistic Cheetoes, just doing that kind of one-time, thousand-foot-view of a campaign is an anachronism. Political junkies want more and can find it elsewhere, while the more casual voter who still wants to feel informed comes away unsatisfied. You know what to do and you know how to do it, so why aren't you? Who in your audience still wants to see this sort of thing?

And finally, with early voting for primaries set to begin tomorrow, where are the endorsements? The Express News became the fourth of the five major dailies to make an endorsement in the Governor's race (they also threw in a nod for Carlos Uresti for good measure), leaving you-know-who as the lone holdout. I recognize that there's not much time between the filing deadline and today, which makes it a tall task to screen everyone and write the endorsement pieces, and that this rush can lead to some due diligence failures, but that's a risk I can live with. It's sure better than disinterest.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on February 20, 2006 to Election 2006 | TrackBack

I felt a bit left out by the Chron. As a voter in the 14th district, which covers part of Galveston County - and living just a few miles from Houston's border - I certainly felt I was a "local". Yet, the Chron failed to mention the primary race between Republican (Libertarian actually) and Cynthia Sinatra.

Posted by: Dennis on February 20, 2006 1:52 PM

Remember, the Chronic is in business to sell ads. The Chronic reports news in a manner that yeilds the greatest advertising revenue.

The Chronic is not in business to provide a public service.

You are not in business to sell ads. Therefore your perspective is different. Not to say that your responsibility is to provide a opublic service either.

Noy to worry: the Chronic sometimes forgets this and criticizes the nature of a blog too.

Posted by: Charless Hixon on February 20, 2006 3:21 PM

Will someone ask the Democratic and Republican candidates:

1. who resists non-evidentiary voting systems in Texas

2. who believes in science, in the science of Global Warming, and is doing something effective and intelligent about it.

Posted by: Support Science to Reverse Global Warming, if still possible on February 20, 2006 3:51 PM

I must agree with you fully and completely. As a volunteer for the Henley campaign, I was pleased to see him in another article (yet dissappointed that Mr. Murff got the coverage on the front page of the section), yet that was about the extent of my satisfaction.

When Houston had an absolutely disgusting turn out for the run-offs in the 2005 city elections, I noticed that the Chronicle had a lackluster performance on that, as well.

This, however, is a bit pitiful. I understand the Chronicle's intentions of being easy to read for those new to the English language, but when it gets to the point that a teenager such as myself understands wholly the reasons some people just ignore the Houston Chronicle and switch to the New York Times - you know there is something wrong.

Posted by: Michael Hurta on February 20, 2006 5:10 PM


The Houston Chronicle may not be in the business of doing a public service, but one would hope that the journalists who work for the paper are in that business. It seems that some of the sports journalists are (no matter how contreversial they are), why is it so hard for a political journalist to be that way?

Posted by: Michael Hurta on February 20, 2006 9:10 PM

FYI Charles -

On February 6th, I was interviewed by a recent addition to the Houston Chronicle staff for about an hour and half.

Once I returned from my Washington (Band of Brothers) trip, I followed up with her to see if she had caught any of the C-Span coverage, or had seen any of the other articles written by the Majors. I was assured the Chronicle was on top of things. Oh Well.

As far as screening and endorsements are concerned, I am scheduled for this Thursday. Better late than never.

It should also be interesting to see if the Chronicle covers the latest news on Paul Hackett's decision to join the Band of Brothers as a dedicated fundraiser for the group. I understand Ed Schultz had him on his show tonight and was himself speaking very favorably of the group, everything we stand for and are seeking to accomplish.

Our Nation has so needed this rallying cry. I am excited to be a part of history in the making and look forward to being the best Congressman Congressional District 7 has ever had.

Posted by: David Murff on February 20, 2006 9:54 PM

That was the the most asinine coverage of a US Senate race I've ever seen in a newspaper.

Between our poor Democratic leadership, a confident charging GOP leading us back pre-Magna Carta and a sleeping media maybe we are getting the government we deserve.

Posted by: Easter Lemming on February 21, 2006 4:31 AM

Hi David,

I greatly admire and appreciate the Band of Brothers, especially Eric Massa who was one of the pioneers of this movement.

I understand that Paul Hackett joined the board of the IAVA PAC (Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America), although I'm sure he also supports the goals of the Band of Brothers.

While I support these organizations in general, for each individual primary, we can't just vote for the group, we must look at the particular individuals, their qualifications and experience. I see in Jim Henley a depth of experience and selfless commitment to service. The tributes of his students and his long history of professional achievements speak volumes.

So while I'll be suppporting a veteran in this race, I'll be supporting a Veteran Teacher, who's earned my greatest respect. Nevertheless, I'd like to thank you for running and for being willing to challenge the regressive representation of Mr. Culberson.

Posted by: pilgrim4progress on February 21, 2006 1:10 PM

I thought, Charles, that you might be interested in this:


It was found by Blog Houston.

At least our local paper does something right. Of course, they still are missing on the politics section.

Posted by: Michael Hurta on March 7, 2006 5:01 PM