States of the Union: Coverage of the Midterms

Ahead of the November 6 elections, CJR invited writers to spotlight stories that deserve closer scrutiny, in their states and beyond, before voters cast their ballots. As we approach midterms, we asked, what should the story be for your state or district—not necessarily the ones pushed by candidates, but the ones that the press ought to cover? Throughout the next month, CJR will publish their dispatches.


Dark money versus a dwindling local news landscape
by Anne Helen Petersen — October 2, 2018
Montana is a state of 147,040 square miles, and just over a million people. We get two senators, but just one congressional representative. In theory, that should make it easier for the local press to report on the federal races… |  Read now


Aftershocks from the epicenter of voter suppression
by Sarah Smarsh — October 4, 2018
Elections meddling by state administrations is a national concern. Readers, viewers and listeners deserve to understand the forces that might compromise the power of their ballots, from gerrymandering to unlawful purging of voter rolls. With pivotal midterm races across the country, no election coverage—in Kansas, and beyond—is complete without deep investigations into the voting process.  |  Read now


Punting a region’s longtime political football—coal
by Lyndesy Gilpin — October 8, 2018
Reporting on energy, the economy, health care, and climate change in a less antagonistic way goes far in places like Kentucky. Covering how people are working for a just transition from a coal economy or investigating public health in former coal communities is more informative and effective than simply covering politics. |  Read now


Interrogating the role elected officials play in mass incarceration
by Michael Barajas — October 10, 2018
In Texas, almost all major law enforcement officials hold elected positions, from the district attorneys who decide what cases to prosecute to the sheriffs who run the local jails. 
These are not headline-grabbing or marquee races. But they should be. |  Read now


Dodging ‘racial demagoguery,’ and the redistricting fight to come
by Elizabeth Catte — October 12, 2018
So far, coverage of Republican Senate candidate Corey Stewart reflects a workable mix of ignoring the cheapest shots, reporting significant campaign events, and contextualizing Stewart’s political style and ascendency as a product of a hard-right fringe. |  Read now


Rural broadband, and the unknown costs of the digital divide
by Lyz Lenz — October 15, 2018
Despite bipartisan support on the issue, the crisis of America’s digital divide has failed to become a headline grabber or garner any real action from politicians as midterms approach. This information disparity undermines our democracy, hampers how we do journalism, and shapes how Americans interact with the news. |  Read now


Holding police accountable for their use of deadly force
by Ryan Bell — October 17, 2018
There are more splashy issues than I-940 on Washington’s midterm ballot. But journalists have a role in informing voters on how the measure will impact local law enforcement. By getting politicians and agencies on the record about I-940, journalists can hold them accountable for whatever steps come next. |  Read now


Uncertainty with a chance of finger-pointing
by David Uberti — October 18, 2018
Across this small but growing cohort of campaign analysis, the marching orders are to avoid any appearance of the sort of certainty given off two years ago. But the Times’ much-criticized needle will be back with a vengeance. |  Read now


Black women, the ‘pink wave,’ and harbingers of our political future
by Nadia Brown — October 19, 2018
Many journalists seem to have treated the state’s Fifth District Congressional race, between three-term Republican incumbent Susan Brooks and Democratic challenger Dee Thornton, as a foregone conclusion. But treating the race as a done deal overlooks its value for reporters and their readers. |  Read now


Telling the whole healthcare reform story
by Aaron Cantú — October 22, 2018
Clarity on candidate health-reform positions won’t necessarily prevent political opponents from characterizing their positions in bad faith. But people in New Mexico deserve robust access to all dimensions of the policy discussion now, regardless of how the political winds change. |  Read now


Candidates shortsighted on climate change’s long-term impacts
by Cynthia Barnett — October 24, 2018
Florida’s midterm candidates are pledging aid for tremors, while skirting or denying a much larger fault line. Two weeks from the general election, many have not come close to articulating the vision and solutions the state will need to tackle what has become its existential threat. |  Read now


Learning from ‘peripheral’ players in the teacher walkout story
by Rivka Galchen — October 24, 2018
The change in voters, though less visible and more vulnerable to the weaknesses of speculation, was in retrospect the most consequential part of the walkout. I should have made more room to track the more subtle changes manifest in speaking to people. |  Read now


Latino voter apathy reflects disconnected media
by Jean Guerrero — November 1, 2018
California Latinxs care about education, healthcare, and the economy. But they are rarely depicted as three-dimensional, complicated voters whose interests extend beyond immigration—and who don’t always agree on that issue. |  Read now