John Robinson continues the conversation about N&R coverage of local candidates at his blog: I only have anecdotes to undergird my belief that most voters are currently disengaged...and I don't have any evidence to the contrary.
As I've said, we are going to do this right, in the best way we can. I appreciate your and others rush to do more rather than less. (And the quick rush to judgment.) I don't see a huge need, and we have other things we're trying to do that we think are more pressing.
Let's unpack that a bit. There is evidence that people want more coverage, earlier and of more candidates. That's how this conversation started, because a candidate spoke up and people started blogging about it. The number of people making public comments is probably a subset of some larger set of interested people, rather than the entire set. Your readers are telling you something while you tell them you hear nothing.
Meanwhile the total number of people interested in local races, as measured by voter turnout, is woefully small, a fact noted sadly on occasion by the N&R. It seems that earlier and broader coverage might be a way of challenging that status quo, as well as doing the basic work of informing the public and being fair to all the serious candidates.
"Quick rush to judgment." If the final product is improved, great. Nobody is judging that yet, although they are making some good recommendations about what that product might include. But we can review the quality and inclusiveness of the product so far, and measure it against the calendar, and consider some quick-and-easy ways to move online, and judge the coverage to date to be lacking.
"I don't see a huge need..." The newspaper says it's big into the web, and into local news, and sees greater voter interest as an important goal. Need identified.