Earlier this year, I asked what readers wanted to see in the Globe’s federal election coverage and was thrilled when more than 200 of you e-mailed and tweeted in response.
Tough and fair election coverage is absolutely critical to making an informed choice, many of you said. “I can get fluff anywhere on the internet for free. I expect from you quality journalism that covers the important issues,” wrote one reader.
That means more investigations, less following the party’s news of the day, which it feeds to the media. Tell us, you said, about the issues some parties aren’t promoting enough, such as climate, Indigenous issues, trade and international issues, housing, infrastructure and deficits. It’s The Globe’s job to scrutinize, many said, and not let the leaders off the hook when they avoid the media or focus on photo ops.
And speaking of photos, a few of you suggested we lose the mocking shots showing leaders in hairnets or dropping footballs. While there may be some nastiness in the campaign (and I think you can expect that), readers asked that The Globe take the high road.
One reader in Victoria said that “unless someone wears a jacket with a message printed on the back in 300 point font, could we pass on references to clothes and hair?”
While readers want The Globe to look at what the Liberals promised and what they achieved, they want the same rigour applied to the opposition parties: What are they promising, what will it cost and is it realistic?
Many said fact checking is job number one, in every article and on every promise. Keep pushing to get a costed platform and don’t let the politicians offer vague slogans.
It’s a time as well for understanding our differences as a country. Many said we have learned from the past U.S. presidential election that coverage must get out of the urban bubble where most national reporters live. Explain what issues are driving voters in all regions, including suburban and rural areas, and why, many said.
A number of you also asked for a range of opinions, so all readers can understand what the other side thinks and why.
There were many who urged The Globe to advocate for democracy by pushing for a higher voter turnout and to show how in some ridings a handful of votes makes a difference.
And here is a big issue that’s also tricky. Recently, Eric Jardine, assistant professor at Virginia Tech and co-author of Look Who’s Watching: Surveillance, Treachery and Trust Online, warned that Canada, like other countries, will see disruptors and foreign influencers try to sway this campaign. He said the key to success for these efforts “is to find existing sore points and to push them hard. ... Canada … has sore points galore. The linguistic and cultural rift between Quebec and the rest of Canada would be an easy target, as too would sentiments of western alienation, immigration and refugee polices, and environmental issues.”
Globe readers are worried about trolls and possible manipulation. So The Globe needs to cover such social-media campaigns, warning you about those attempting to sow division.
These recommendations were passed on to the senior editors planning election coverage. Editor-in-chief David Walmsley said he greatly appreciated the readers’ sage advice and said The Globe will “capture the intent in our work. Already we are investigating possible foreign attempts to interfere in our democratic process and we will continue to go deeper into issues none of the parties may focus on but which our audience tell us are highly relevant to their lives."
There will also be a focus on third-party advertising: Who are these groups? What messages are they promoting? And are they operating within the new advertising-transparency rules?
Ottawa bureau chief Robert Fife said the readers’ views captured The Globe’s ambitions and ideas well and said coverage will scrutinize all parties and their policies. He noted a series of regional features is already in the works. Earlier this year, Daniel Leblanc wrote about the Liberal strength in Quebec and how the party hopes to win more seats there to offset potential losses elsewhere. John Ibbitson is working on an issues story in Mississauga. And many other regional stories will come between now and voting day in October.
There will be personal profiles of the leaders, but reporters outside of Ottawa will write them, so the focus will be less political and more on the person who wants to lead.
If you want to add anything in the coming months, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet @sylviastead.