This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Recently, the Alliance for a Better Utah Education Fund (ABU) partnered with the University of Utah's John R. Park Debate Society on four local debates: three house districts and one school board seat. ABU also attempted to schedule debates in the governor's race and the Salt Lake County Council race. The challengers (Mike Weinholtz and Catherine Kanter) agreed to the debates, but both incumbents declined.
Regrettably, the media failed to cover these local debates (even though notified well in advance). These local debates were excellent opportunities for constituents to see the differences between the candidates who will most affect their day-to-day lives (in the aggregate, those candidates represent over 100,000 people).
Voter engagement is critical to our democracy. And it is a responsibility of the media to inform the voting public about debates so voters can attend or tune in and, thereafter, to summarize the candidates' positions in the debates to help voters crystallize their own thoughts about the candidates.
Unfortunately, our media has added to the "why bother" attitude of so many voters by neglecting to report on the debates. Shame on our local media for failing to do their part to engage our citizenry in the democratic process.
Jonathan Ruga, Scott Young
and Josh Kanter
Salt Lake City