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Here's how WCPO plans to cover presidential candidate visits

Posted: 5:00 AM, Aug 01, 2019
Updated: 2019-08-01 07:59:43-04
Election night viewers' guide

The 2020 presidential election freight train is already here. It seems like each campaign for the White House begins earlier and earlier.

That’s one of the ways our political landscape has changed dramatically in the last few years.

As a news organization, that means we must evolve as well.

For years, local news organizations followed the same game plan when presidential candidates came to this market to campaign.

Now, not only has the political environment changed, so have the methods that we can use to bring you coverage of presidential candidate campaign visits.

President Trump will have a major rally for his 2020 campaign here at 7 p.m. Thursday at U.S. Bank Arena. This is a big deal for our region, just as it is a big deal any time a president comes to visit. We will have extensive coverage of the event.

RELATED: Everything you need to know about President Trump’s visit to Cincinnati

In many ways, this is the first major candidate visit to our region as part of the 2020 presidential election. So how we cover President Trump’s visit will set the precedent for how we cover future candidates. This will include both President Trump and any of the Democratic presidential candidates.

When a candidate comes to visit, we will:

  • Livestream the campaign speeches on Facebook, on our app, on our website and in our streaming apps such as Roku, Amazon Fire or Apple TV.
  • Report on the visit and what the candidate says. This coverage will be on social media, on our website, in our app and in our newscasts. This reporting will include fact checks for candidates.
  • Provide coverage of issues surrounding that visit as necessary. For example, President Trump’s visit likely will result in traffic congestion.

One thing we will not do for these campaign events is air the entire events live on TV.

This is a change from previous elections. For example, in 2016 we would frequently broadcast live on TV entire speeches from Hillary Clinton and President Trump.

It is important to note that this policy does not include national speeches such as the State of the Union address that are carried live by ABC or speeches by President Trump that are delivered here locally that are about policy changes or initiatives.

Here is why we are making these changes:

  • As mentioned above, the election season has started very early. We could be looking at 16 months' worth of candidate visits.
  • We need to treat all of the candidates —  all 26 of them, as I write this — equally. With so many candidates we could have speech after speech. This could dramatically cut into our audience’s ability to watch their favorite TV programs.
  • We want to do our best to minimize interruptions of TV programming that our viewers count on for news and entertainment.
  • We still have all the ways mentioned above that will allow us to show the speeches and events live in their entirety for those who want to watch every minute.

When the Republican and Democratic parties finalize the nomination process and there are two nominees running for president, we may revisit this decision. But we will follow this policy during the primary season.

  • We know this is a controversial decision for some of our audience, but we wanted to let you know that we took great care in trying to make a fair decision for our community. It also is important to note that this decision was made by journalists who live and work here in Cincinnati. This was not a shot called by our corporate office or any network.

Fairness is an important part of earning your trust, and we’re proud of our 70-year tradition of covering the Tri-State’s news with fairness, honesty, accuracy and trustworthiness.

If you have feedback about this decision for our Feedback Friday call-in segment, please call 513-852-4998.

Mike Canan is the Senior Director of Local Media Content at WCPO. Contact him at mike.canan@wcpo.com. Follow him on Twitter or Instagram at @Mike_Canan.