This just in: Brian Moran is seeking the governor’s seat.

Oh, look—Brian Moran announced today that he’s running for governor. And media outlets are carrying the story as news—Charlottesville’s WCAV, D.C.’s WTOP, the Associated Press / Daily Press, and Lynchburg’s WSET are all reporting on this.

I don’t mean to pick on Moran here, because lots of candidates do this. They run for office for months or years, make hundreds of visits to dozens or hundreds of locations across the district, are the subject of hundreds of articles, file their declaration of candidacy with the SBE, collect the signatures to get on the ballot for a primary, report across several campaign finance cycles…and then announce that they’re running for office. Why do candidates do it? Because it works—media outlets run the story, as we can see here. If Brian Moran held a press conference announcing his candidacy once a week, every week, for months, I wonder how long media outlets would keep reporting it as news?

These stories should feature reporters asking Moran what’s changed, what is true today that wasn’t yesterday, and explaining to their audience that this is simple political theater. (WSET gets close, telling their viewers: “You may have thought he was already in the running but Saturday Brian Moran officially entered the race for the Democratic nomination for governor.” But that’s misleading—it implies that he wasn’t in the running yesterday, but that it’s “official” today.) Better still, though, media outlets just shouldn’t cover these sorts of events. Many are in rough financial shape. Better to spend time covering actual news.

Published by Waldo Jaquith

Waldo Jaquith (JAKE-with) is an open government technologist who lives near Char­lottes­­ville, VA, USA. more »

5 replies on “This just in: Brian Moran is seeking the governor’s seat.”

  1. Personally, I don’t pay attention to any campaigns until after the May iterations of their announcements. “Moran 4 Governor: No Srsly!”

  2. While these events are arguably silly, I have to disagree with your implication that the blame lies with the candidates and the news media should be smarter about them. I think it’s more likely that the source of the problem is the news media; candidates hold these events because they get coverage unlike virtually anything else they do. While the events are not of any great significance, at least they’re connected to an event of some significance (the election) and may prompt some readers/viewers to take some interest in it.

    I’d be happy if the news media would substitute covering the substance of the race for covering just the horse race angles, and I’m sure campaigns would be just as happy to spend time talking to voters instead of putting together events to try to attract media coverage. But in the absence of that, I think the idea that if they weren’t covering this that they’d be covering “actual news” is extremely optimistic.

  3. Actually, Jim, I hoped readers would conclude is that the fault lies with the media, not campaigns. (“Why do candidates do it? Because it works—media outlets run the story, as we can see here.” “…I wonder how long media outlets would keep reporting it as news?” Etc.) Campaigns’ jobs are to get in the news, and that can warrant all sorts of foolishness. It’s the job of the media either to contextualize said foolishness or to ignore it.

  4. Boucher, McAuliffe and Deeds to Headline Energy Technology Summit

    Wise, VA. – Congressman Rick Boucher (D-Va) and Democratic gubernatorial primary candidates Terry McAuliffe and Creigh Deeds and a number of expert speakers on cutting-edge fusion energy, wind farms, bio-fuels, carbon-based coal and natural gas will be among the speakers at the 2nd Annual Energy Technology Summit to be held Monday, April 27th at The University of Virginia College at Wise Student Union beginning at 8:30 AM.

    The one-day summit, sponsored by the Southwestern Virginia Technology Council, will be a gathering of one hundred and fifty thought leaders in business, government, energy and the environment to develop strategies for making southwestern Virginia an international leader in the development of advanced energy technologies in the coming decade. A number of energy technology business announcements are planned.

    The luncheon and outdoor picnic on the college campus will feature a display of hybrid electric cars to demonstrate the latest in electric and natural gas conversion technologies lead by the Advanced Vehicle Research Center located at the North Carolina Research Triangle. The summit lunch is expected to draw hundreds from the student and faculty campus population, the local community, and the summit delegates.

    An afternoon gubernatorial energy policy forum will include two of the four major candidates for Virginia governor in a discussion exclusively devoted to energy and energy technology policies. Democrats Terry McAuliffe and Creigh Deeds have committed to attend and address the policy issues. Energy has been a major policy issue in the 2009 statewide gubernatorial campaigns.

    Prior to the late afternoon adjournment, technology attorney Jeff Mitchell of Blacksburg will conduct a continuing legal education seminar on the federal economic stimulus package energy funding programs. An estimated $9-billion in federal dollars are targeted for small energy firms. Attorneys and accountants will receive professional education credits.

    The 2009 Energy Technology Summit is an outgrowth of efforts within the regional technology community to assist in the development and growth of the regional energy technology economy. Contact Esther Bolling at 679-7800 for specific registration details
    General admission tickets at $50.

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