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Inside The Globe

Public Editor Sylvia Stead responds to readers and gives a behind-the-scenes look

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Progressive Conservative leader Alison Redford (R) and Wildrose leader Danielle Smith engage during a televised leaders' debate in Edmonton April 12, 2012. (DAN RIEDLHUBER/REUTERS/DAN RIEDLHUBER/REUTERS)
Progressive Conservative leader Alison Redford (R) and Wildrose leader Danielle Smith engage during a televised leaders' debate in Edmonton April 12, 2012. (DAN RIEDLHUBER/REUTERS/DAN RIEDLHUBER/REUTERS)

How equal should coverage of political parties be during a campaign? Add to ...

If you want to see hot buttons in terms of how readers react to our coverage, politics is usually at the top of the list.

In letters to the editor and in comments online, we see the passion and, at times, the fury in your views on who is best to lead the country or one of its provinces. Or whose policies are either much needed or don’t make sense.

Democracy and democratic debate are cherished by our readers. But you don’t always agree with how The Globe covers that democratic debate.

The Alberta election is drawing the same fervour. A few have wondered why The Globe and Mail is paying so much attention to this provincial election. Leading the polls are the Conservative Leader, Premier Alison Redford, and Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith.

Last Saturday, we published a major profile from freelance writer Sydney Sharpe in the Focus section on Ms. We also published a sidebar by Edmonton bureau reporter Josh Wingrove on some of the candidates in the Wildrose party who could be considered for cabinet positions.

One of our more polite readers said: “As a long-standing subscriber to your paper, I note the four pages of this Saturday’s Globe and Mail about Danielle Smith and the AB Wildrose Party. I am looking forward to similar coverage for Alison Redford ... Else I will know that you have a bias ... and I might as well replace your paper with one of the local junk sheets.”

Two weeks before, Focus also ran a major profile on Ms. Redford by our senior features writer Sandra Martin.

It wasn’t as long as the Danielle Smith article, but does that matter in terms of impact and balance? Can or should you measure inches of coverage? Does the timing of the two profiles matter?

“I believe readers should look at the totality of our coverage, rather than one edition in the midst of a campaign,” says Globe Managing Editor David Walmsley.

“Either Smith or Redford is expected to be the premier when this election is over, and we would rather offer the reader information about both women during the campaign rather than wait to the end.

"Alberta is, after all, providing us all one of the more fascinating elections of Canada’s recent history.”

Albertans go to the polls on Monday (April 23), and you can expect much more coverage on the results and how the province will be governed.

“We have one of the most compelling political stories unfolding in Alberta, with a race to the finish. Political reporting and increased scrutiny from our reporters adds to the debate and also to a better understanding of the issues at play,” says Mr. Walmsley.

The next moment of contention could be an editorial on The Globe’s views on who would be best to govern the province.

It’s worth reminding readers that many newspapers, including The Globe and Mail, offer endorsements on major leadership contests, provincial votes and federal votes.

The Globe has been doing this since its founding in 1844. Our Editorial Board Editor John Geiger says it is a proud tradition that is taken very seriously, but it is worth remembering that it is the opinion of the editorial board and not the newsroom, which remains non-partisan.

I don’t know who or which party will be endorsed and why, but I expect to hear and read your opinions on that as well.

If you want to comment on this please do so below. If you want to e-mail me on this or any other matter, please contact me at publiceditor@globeandmail.com.

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