The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

October 7, 2010

Negative campaigning

The Register-Herald

— Campaigning for the November election is in high gear and with it comes a full slate of negative ads meant to smear one’s opponent(s).

The mudslinging is not only distasteful, it typically reflects only a version of what may or may not be the truth.

Step back from the election for just a minute and think about this.

Have you ever said something that didn’t come out of your mouth just right? For plenty of us, it probably happens daily and maybe many times.

So, back to the issue of campaign ads, particularly those being broadcast. Sound bites are just what they are, snippets of a broader statement. Yes, in many instances they can give insight into how candidate A, or candidate B or C, may feel about an issue. But 5 or 10 or 15 seconds just can’t be seriously considered as really informational unless it is something glaring; that doesn’t happen often and that just doesn’t provide voters with a deep enough look.

Negative ads, while oftentimes effective because of their inflammatory nature, leave us disgusted and may be a direct reason why people don’t bother to vote.

Every time an election comes up, we try to encourage the public to exercise their American right to vote. Then after another poor turnout at the polls, the talk turns to voter apathy.

Resorting to negative campaigning turns us off. And most voters, if they are frank with you, would tell you it turns them off, too.

We will continue to try and give voters a deeper, balanced look as Nov. 2 draws closer. We have invited candidates in some races to appear for interviews and we will publish those detailed pieces in the days ahead.

We also are offering candidates the opportunity, free of charge, to submit a 500-word profile that we will print in a special section “In Their Own Words” just prior to Election Day.

Becoming an educated voter is vitally important to electing our future leaders, watching or listening to negative ads generated by spin doctors does nothing to accomplish that goal.