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Point and Click

The political season is here in flaming red, white and blue. From backbiting political commercials to political parties circling their wagons, the political process’ eccentricities are everywhere. If you have a television – and you keep the volume on for the commercials – you have to have seen the cat fight going on between incumbent U.S. Congresswoman Marilyn Musgrave and challenger Angie Paccione. Ladies! Is it really necessary to publicly humiliate each other? I’m much more interested in what these women plan to accomplish if they’re elected to Congress than in how much dirt they can dig up on each other. They take the cake for the most vindictive political campaigns in Colorado – all of which prompts me to not want to vote for either one of them. As a newspaper editor of a local weekly paper, The Citizen Telegram in Rifle, I’m not immune to the wrath of election season. Our last issue, published Oct. 12, featured a cover photo of a young woman holding a sign under her arm at the gubernatorial debate between Bob Beauprez (R) and Bill Ritter (D) in Rifle on Oct. 4. The debate was a news story, and so we asked our photographer to attend and to take photos of the event. Our photographer submitted the photo we ran because the woman – clapping, expectant and excited – epitomized the mood of what happened that day. The fact that her sign had Bob Beauprez’s name on it was just a part of the news story – no more, no less.Not according to a representative of our county’s Democratic Party however. When the paper came out, the representative was unhappy (to put it mildly) that we ran the photo, stating that we had broken some kind of newspaper rule for coverage. Huh? Does that mean we can’t run photos of candidates unless we run photos of their challengers? What is our role here? Flummoxed (what a great word) by this reaction – though understanding the party’s need to protect its turf – I did some research. I called three media authorities whom I trust and respect implicitly, explained the situation, and asked their opinion. They all agreed, in essence, that the photo was a representation of an event – again, no more, less. One said that in her 30-plus years of newspaper work all over the state of Colorado, she had never heard of such a reaction about a news photo. “Newspapers are private businesses,” she said. “They’re not publicly-owned; people forget that. You need to pick the best photo to represent the story. If it’s one with a sign in it, you’re going to get calls. That’s part of the freedom of speech. “Wow, you guys are serious about your politics over there,” she added with a smile.Carrie Click is the editor and general manager of The Citizen Telegram in Rifle (citizentelegram.com). A good photo is a good photo no matter what political sign is being held under the subject’s arm. Carrie can be reached at 625-3245, ext. 101, cclick@citizentelegram.com.


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