David Montgomery and I will be in Vermillion today for the Tim Johnson announcement. We’ll go live at 2:30 for some pre-game analysis and then broadcast the presentation and come back after for some follow up. You can watch it all here at argusleader.com.
Of course, there’s absolutely no drama left in terms of the content of the announcement. As Jon Schaff of NSU said in Montgomery’s story in today’s print edition, Johnson’s retirement is the “worst-kept secret in South Dakota.” The three-term Democrat is going to retire when his term ends in 2014. This will launch the biggest race we’ve had in South Dakota in a decade. Hard to believe it’s been that long since the electoral wars of 2002 and 2004.
We’ll talk about all that at 2:30.
It’s been fascinating to watch the coverage of the pending retirement. The unnamed sources came out of the woodwork the past couple days.
You may notice that we didn’t use unnamed sources in our story today. We almost never do, even though it’s common practice everywhere else in politics. I’m comfortable with that. Yes, we could have run a headline today saying Johnson is retiring. We have the same information everybody else does. It’s not hard to get. But it’s gotten to the point where political reporters are offering sources anonymity because they knows it’s quicker and easier than trying to get it on the record.
I understand the competitive nature of the news cycle, I really do. But the danger here isn’t so much that you’re going to get something wrong - though that does happen - but that as a reporter or editor you just become a pawn in someone’s political strategy. There are folks in the game who spend their whole lives formulating media strategy and if you’re not careful pretty soon you lose track of the ultimate goal, which isn’t to win the news cycle but to serve the people.
So we’re going to go to Vermillion today and talk politics. And it’s going to be fun. It’s a further twist of the tension lever in the run-up to 2014. It will be a long, hard pull to election day for sure, with many characters playing a role.
We’ll do our best at Argus Leader Media to sort through it all. You have my assurance of that. We try to print substantive stories that help you make voting decisions. As long as we keep our eyes on that prize, we won’t need anonymous sources.