NPR really blew an election story this morning and it makes me mad. And it really makes me mad when it's in my own back yard! Now don't get me wrong, NPR is still one of the best news sources on the air waves, and I listen to them and support them. But I expect their typical high quality, and when I think they screwed up, I let them know.
This morning they did a story about Fort Collins Colorado, which I've lived in or near for several decades. Politically, Fort Collins has moved from purple toward blue, and Larimer county has moved from red to purple. In many ways, Larimer County is very representative of the nation as a whole.
But President Obama carried the county by 10% in 2008 and the city of Fort Collins by even more. So if you're going to do an election story this close to an election, I assume you're going to do the typical interview of a couple Democrats and then a couple Republicans and give a little background about the area's political leanings. But that's not what we got this morning.
Here's how the NPR story played this morning.
First they start off with part of a stump speech from Paul Ryan who happened to be in the area.
Enthusiastic supporters cheered as Ryan called for a wide-ranging energy policy.Ok, I get it that if you've got a chance to catch a candidate giving a stump speech you certainly want to get a part of it. And now you go into the crowd and interview one of the supporters, fine.
"We have lots of energy in this country," he said. "Let's use that energy in this country and put people back to work! You've got it all right here — oil, gas, to coal to renewables. Colorado's got it all!"
He went on to say that President Obama is standing in the way of a more comprehensive energy policy, that there are too many federal regulations on drilling for domestic oil and gas. It's a sentiment that many at the rally seemed to share — people like Gary Albers, a strong supporter of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
Albers believes that those federal restrictions are keeping the U.S. overly reliant on foreign oil. Additionally, he says, gas is expensive, which is making a tough economic time even tougher. But Albers also agrees with Ryan about renewables.So now I'm thinking they're going to go into town and interview a couple of Democrats. We've heard from a Republican candidate and some fairly harsh criticism of the President. Instead, they interview another Republican who happens to be on the City council.
"I think we have to invest in our natural resources, as well as in natural energies such as wind and solar," he says.
Another Republican, Wade Troxell, also believes in those natural energies. Troxell is an elected member on the nonpartisan City Council of Fort Collins and an associate dean at the College of Engineering at Colorado State University. He is openly passionate about the technology and the policy behind renewable energy, specifically the smart grid.Now I'm thinking this is going to have to be a long story if they're going to balance this out with some equivalent criticism of Romney from several Democrats. At lest this last guy comes across as a moderate Republican.
Off to a Brew Pub in Fort Collins to interview the director of sustainability. And what would you expect the director of sustainability to talk about? How about sustainability.
"We capture the methane in two large balloons on the property and pipe that methane back into the plant to use in two engines, which create electricity on-site," she explains. That system can provide up to 15 percent of New Belgium's electrical needs. The brewery also uses energy from solar panels — an investment it was able to make because of the federal stimulus, which offered grants for renewable energy projects.Great! I'm a crazy ALT-E person and the more we talk about it, especially when we can talk about good beer at the same time, I'm all for it! But isn't this supposed to be a political piece, with maybe an energy edge? Where's the criticism of Romney/Ryan, or the glowing support of Obama. At the end of the interview, they report she is concerned about environmental issues and will vote for Obama and the Democrats.
A nice interview, but for a political campaign story, it's pretty weak. So I guess the reporter will go to the local Democratic headquarters, or maybe the Obama campaign office to get the hard political point of view. Wrong! It's back to a comment from the Republican city councilman.
As for Troxell? He, too, is committed to renewable resources and sustainability, and while he has yet to make a final decision, he says he believes in a lot of things about the Romney campaign. He doesn't think much has been accomplished in the past four years but — like many of the people we met in Fort Collins — seems to take a balanced view of the current political scene.End of story! WTF! NPR interviews 2 Romney supporters, with multiple quotes, plays a part of Paul Ryans stump speech, and balances this political story with an Obama supporter talking about renewable energy in a brew pub. And to top it off, these Republicans aren't even very representative of the Tea Party "drill baby drill" crowd that dominate the rural part of the county.
Like I said, I'm a big renewable energy supporter, and if you want to do a story on small businesses using their ingenuity to produce energy, that's great. And I also like micro-brews, so if you want to do a story about quality beer, that's great too. But if you're doing a political story in a town that leans Democratic, how about letting at least one Democrat talk about politics after you've played part of a Republican stump speech and interviewed 2 Republicans?!
Come on NPR, you should be better than this!