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Darec Liebel, Fargo, Published October 03 2012

Letter: Please, Forum, remove the bias from Senate campaign reporting

As a Forum subscriber for many years, I have been disappointed more than ever in our local newspaper’s blatant inability to remain neutral in this election season. I understand if a story or lead drives an article to seem biased based on its content, but the “headlines,” color photos and page placement of articles that our own editors decide upon critically affect voters in the local, state and national debate.

I am specifically talking about two recent articles on the front page of The Forum. The first article was on Sunday, Sept. 30’s front page as the lead story: “On-Air Advantage in Senate Battle?” The article was accompanied by a large, flattering picture of North Dakota candidate for U.S. Senate Heidi Heitkamp (D) and her brother Joel covering the top half of the front page. The article was basically a “cupcake” interview about her brother, his radio show and her family that never asks any relevant political questions of the candidate. Sunday is the most read paper of the week, and this past Sunday gave Heitkamp a nice, page and a half, unofficial endorsement.

The second article was a secondary story on Oct. 2’s front page; its headline read “Walaker not endorsing Berg.” The next logical step in my mind is that he must be endorsing Heitkamp. Not until the second paragraph do you realize Mayor Dennis Walaker will not endorse Heitkamp either. Interestingly, the photo of North Dakota candidate for U.S. Senate Rick Berg (R) is an unofficial miniature head shot.

I look forward to a flattering Sunday front page article on Congressman Berg within the next couple of weeks, and I look forward to a future front page story with the headline “Mayor Walaker not endorsing Heitkamp.”

I appreciate our local Forum for its local feel-good stories, sports and business information, but it (just like a majority of the country’s media) is sliding down the slippery slope of trying to give advantage to one candidate or another through its editorial process. Please stop! Your readers desire and deserve an unbiased newspaper when it comes to how you present each candidate.