It is not unusual for us to receive, on any day, letters and comments from Labor supporters accusing us of bias towards the Liberals; and from Liberal supporters accusing us of bias towards Labor.
Readers can make of that what they will. But when both sides of the political spectrum accuse a newspaper of bias, it’s our view that we’re probably doing our job properly.
However, for the record:
The Mercury abolished its daily Editorial columns many months ago. Newsprint is a valuable and limited resource and we would rather use it for news articles.
When we do occasionally publish our own opinion on some specific issue, it appears under the clear label “We Say”. However, during this election, we have not published a single We Say. Not one.
That is because, when it comes to commentary, we prefer to hear what our readers and contributors have to say, rather than use the space for our own opinions.
That policy has been reflected in our approach to this campaign.
Specifically, we have invited every local candidate – all 21 of them – to submit one article a day, up to six days a week, to talk in their own words about whatever they want, for publication on our website.
That invitation was made genuinely and offered openly.
Some candidates took advantage of that offer. Others chose not to. That is their right.
But every article that was submitted was published, and none of them was edited or modified by us.
In addition, over the past week, we have published one open question each day to all of the local candidates. (Each day’s question was also sent directly to every candidate.)
Again, some candidates responded, others chose not to.
And again, that is their right.
In regards to our news coverage of local candidates and their campaigns, it needs to be said that this election has been marked by an unusually low level of campaign activity, at least locally.
If candidates either have no campaign activities or can’t be bothered to tell us about them; won’t make themselves available for interviews; won’t take up a sincere and open invitation to contribute their own articles; or choose not to respond to questions posed publicly, then neither they nor their supporters have any grounds to complain about not getting a fair go.
The opportunities were there. But as the old saying goes: You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.