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Niagara-on-the-Lake
Wednesday, September 28, 2022
Editorial: Substance, please, not just platitudes
Editorial.
Editorial. Supplied

Exactly 60 days from today, we should know who will be the next lord mayor and councillors for the Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake.

That is a lonnnnng campaign. Is anyone paying attention yet? Other than the candidates and their most ardent supporters and volunteers, probably not many.

There’s an old saying about fall elections – no one pays them any mind until after Labour Day.

And while municipal campaigns are really the most fundamental, grassroots and closest-to-the-people forms of democracy that we have, they are also the elections that people pay the least attention to.

That is, until they have a noisy short-term rental next door or a giant pothole on their road or the streetlights don’t work or …

All politics are local, but municipal politics are really local, and too often lo-cal.

As the trusted, independent media voice in our community, The Lake Report plans to cover the election campaign closely, bringing you news as it happens and occasionally commenting on the proceedings as necessary.

However, we’re going to do things a little differently than others might.

In old-school small-town media, too often journalists allow the candidates to dictate the news and political agenda.

And it has long been the practice, especially in smaller centres, to publish glowing pre-election stories about each candidate, all the fine things they stand for and maybe the things they will do if elected.

We don’t apologize for refusing to do that. Self-aggrandizing, self-serving “puff” pieces with little or no critical assessment are nothing more than advertising. They’re not news nor are they good journalism.

However, on Oct. 13, we will give candidates a unique advertising opportunity when we publish a special Election 2022 section, full of paid ads touting their bona fides, their political CVs and their platforms.

We’re not knocking advertising; we love it. It is the lifeblood of this newspaper, allowing us to bring you quality journalism each Thursday.

As in everything else we do, we will strive to meet the expectations our readers have set for us.

So, here’s our plan and our promise. When candidates make news of substance by something they say or do, or when an issue erupts during the campaign, we will endeavour to tell you about it.

At candidate meetings and forums, when legitimate, real news is made, we will report on it. We will ask questions and expect answers, because that is what you have told us you expect.

It’s not rocket science.

When a politico launches their campaign, opens a campaign office or simply makes an appearance in the community, we might be on hand to ask them questions and listen, but we won’t simply document some non-event just because a mayoral or council candidate showed up.

Our readers deserve better. Now, some politicians will not like this approach and that’s unfortunate.

We simply are asking them for substance, not platitudes; solutions, not abstract generalities; and passion but not performance.