Media General's 26 TV stations, all network affiliates, will provide airtime
for position statements from candidates in various statewide and federal races.
The two-three minute statements, without aid of props, photos, videos or
graphics (we guess that rules out Ross Perot), will air during newscasts. The
statements will run unedited but must meet broadcast standards, may not be false
and may not criticize or attack an opponent.
News directors will be actively involved in spot checking the statements.
"Anything obvious or extreme will hopefully set some alarms off," says Dan
Bradley, vice president, news, for Media General's broadcast division. "That
will give them a chance not to go with it if it is flat out wrong."
The stations will also add context, if necessary, in follow-up reporting,
Bradley doesn't expect to have to screen out much. He tried this approach two
years ago when he was at Media General's WFLA-TV Tampa and he says most
statements were "right on the money."
All the candidates in Tampa participated, says Bradley, as did those
approached by WSPA-TV Spartanburg, S.C., for a primary earlier this year.
Bradley is still batting a thousand. He says nine of nine candidates in an
Aug. 20, Savannah, Ga., primary have confirmed. Seven have already taped spots
and two more were doing so at press time.
"Political coverage is one of our primary responsibilities," says Bradley,
"and we need to do more than run after the sound bites and whistle