Oregon governor’s race – a new approach by the state’s press

More than 30 people are running for governor in Oregon and appear on the May 17 primary ballot. A media collaboration questioned them all. (Malheur Enterprise/File)

Media outlets across Oregon are taking a novel approach to covering the 2022 governor’s race: They’re working together.

The 2022 Oregon Media Collaboration on the governor’s race stemmed from the wants of voters themselves. In listening sessions earlier this year, Oregonians told the Oregon Capital ChronicleRural Development Initiatives, and the Agora Journalism Center that they were ready for changes in election coverage.

For one, voters said, the press should stop picking winners and losers by deciding which candidates to cover in-depth. Voters wanted more information on all of the candidates, to decide for themselves which person warranted serious attention. 

With nearly three-dozen candidates running in the primaries, that was a tall ask for any one newsroom alone. So, Agora and the Capital Chronicle rallied reporters from across the state to create a comprehensive guide to the candidates. Journalists co-wrote 15 questions delivered to each candidate on the ballot, and Agora created a digital guide that any newsroom across the state could publish. 

READ IT: Candidates answer 15 questions

Our work isn’t done yet. In the coming months, partners will brainstorm what kind of collaborative coverage we can provide to best suit the needs of Oregon voters in the general election this fall. By working together and pooling resources, we can push the boundaries of what’s been done in the past– and perhaps provide voters information on candidates they’ve not had before.

If you have questions or suggestions on how to make this collaboration better, we’d love to hear from you.

How we did this: 

Agora surveyed newsrooms across the state to gauge their interest in participating in this collaboration. Some two-dozen decided to be very involved, while several others opted to share the project once it was ready to publish. Journalists from the core group of involved newsrooms came together to draft 15 questions spanning education, environment, housing, crime, and the economy. These issues were determined to be the most critical by the collaborative group. Transportation also ranked high but ultimately did not make our top five issues.

Agora sent the journalist-drafted questions to each of the candidates running for governor in the May 17th primary. Candidates were contacted twice by email and also via their campaign phone numbers. If a candidate did not respond to the Q&A that is indicated on the question sheet. Candidate answers were limited to 300 words, and if a candidate exceeded that word length, their reply was trimmed at the end of the sentence closest to 300 words. All of the candidate responses are in their direct words, including grammar and spelling errors.

If a candidate responds to the survey post-publication we will update the database with their answers, and indicate that the answers were received after the publication deadline.

– Andrew DeVigal, Agora Journalism Center

Previous coverage:

Oregon journalists are experimenting with new way to report on governor’s race (4/19)

Oregon voters want more help from the press to learn about candidates for governor (4/1/22)

Oregonians invited to ‘Let’s Talk’ session to share what they want from an Oregon governor (1/17/22)

Over 60 Oregon newsrooms are participating in this collaborative effort including the following:

Bend BulletinBike PortlandCapital Press, Columbia Gorge NewsEugene WeeklyGales Creek JournalGrants Pass Daily CourierHerald and NewsJefferson Public RadioKeizertimesKGWKLCCLake County ExaminerMalheur EnterpriseNewport News-TimesThe OregonianOregon Capital ChroniclePhilomath NewsPortland MonthlyPortland RecordStreet RootsSalem ReporterSeaside SignalSiuslaw NewsThe Way by OR360Times-JournalWillamette Week, and Yachats News.

EO Media Group papers: The AstorianBaker City HeraldBlue Mountain EagleThe BulletinCapital PressChinook ObserverCoast River Business JournalEast OregonianHermiston HeraldThe ObserverOregon Capital InsiderRedmond SpokesmanSeaside SignalWallowa County Chieftain

Pamplin Media Group papers: Beaverton Valley TimesBusiness TribuneClackamas ReviewCanby HeraldCentral Oregonian, Columbia County Spotlight, Estacada NewsForest Grove News-Times, Gresham OutlookHillsboro News-TimesLake Oswego ReviewMadras PioneerMolalla PioneerNewberg GraphicOregon City NewsPortland TribuneSandy PostSellwood BeeSherwood GazetteSouthwest Connection, The Times (Tigard/Tualatin), West Linn Tidings, Wilsonville SpokesmanWoodburn Independent.