News organizations and nonprofit groups in Oregon have teamed up to learn what voters want candidates for governor to be talking about as they compete for votes. They seek Oregonians to participate in a “Let’s Talk” 90-minute virtual listening session soon to share their understanding of the race through the media. There is no cost to join in this nonpartisan event.
Voters would join others via the Zoom platform to discuss off the record what information they want to know about the candidates – and what they don’t want to hear. The intent is for news organizations to provide reporting in the coming months that serves the interests and needs of Oregonians instead of candidates and their campaigns.
The governor’s race promises to be one of the most important in recent Oregon history with several high-profile candidates and a state reeling from the pandemic and political divides.
The effort is led by the Oregon Capital Chronicle, a nonprofit digital news service focused on state government and politics; Rural Development Initiatives, a nonprofit focused on community vitality in rural Oregon; and the Agora Journalism Center, part of the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication in Portland.
The Times-Journal is participating as a host.
“We’re keenly interested in having voters help frame news coverage, to provide reporting beyond the usual polls and campaign financing reporting,” said Les Zaitz, editor of Oregon Capital Chronicle.
“We look forward to hearing from diverse groups representing small communities throughout Oregon, to make sure we understand what’s important to people as we consider who the next governor should be,” said Jennifer Groth, director of Policy and Partnerships at Rural Development Initiatives.
“Understanding and fulfilling the public’s information needs to inform their decision at the ballot box is a critical democratic role for the media. Listening is a key first step.” said Andrew DeVigal, director of the Agora Journalism Center.
Sessions with voters grouped in their region will take place by the end of February.
To participate Oregonians can go to “Let’s Talk” to submit their interest along with basic information. The deadline for expressing interest is Tuesday, Jan. 25. Link to interest form: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/8JV25WF