How The Durango Herald plans to cover the 2020 election

Laveta Brigham

Election Day 2020 is almost here, and we want to be a resource to help you – our community – make sense of it all. This year poses some unique challenges when it comes to elections. Many other states are expanding their mail-in voting systems in response to the coronavirus […]

Election Day 2020 is almost here, and we want to be a resource to help you – our community – make sense of it all.

This year poses some unique challenges when it comes to elections. Many other states are expanding their mail-in voting systems in response to the coronavirus pandemic, and slow returns could delay national election results. We’re all dealing with misinformation while trying to make choices that matter to our families and communities.

Heading into elections, our focus is on you, our readers. The Durango Herald is a nonpartisan, independent, member-supported, award-winning news source dedicated to Southwest Colorado and beyond. Our mission is to give you balanced, verified, fair coverage that connects you to key players and top issues that impact you.

We know the public is struggling to trust the media as a whole right now. Americans see the news media as important to a free society, some surveys show, but they don’t think it’s fulfilling its democratic roles.

Our goal is to provide news you can trust. So come into our newsroom, so to speak. Let’s have a conversation about what we do.

What will we cover and how did we decide?We’re local, which means one of the best services we can provide readers is an insight into local elections that receive far less media coverage than state and national issues.

We can’t cover everything, so we are focusing our efforts on the elections that impact you the most.

We’ll give you in-depth articles about the county commissioner, state representative and U.S. Congressional races – the people who give you a voice in government. We’ll focus on ballot measures that affect your fire and emergency services, your kids’ education, your tax dollars and more.

Our reporters are on the ground, “working the beats.” They know the candidates and top issues. They live in your communities and know how these elections can affect your daily lives.

On Election Day, their goal is to connect you to the players in these elections and the most up-to-date, verified information – to help you make sense of it all.

How will election coverage work?Before Election Day, reporters will be contacting sources and writing background material outlining the top issues during the campaign, the candidates’ professional backgrounds and other hot topics or historical information related to specific races and ballot measures.

It’s a way for reporters to verify information ahead of time and get you speedy results with helpful context.

On Election Day, we’ll have reporters out in the community during the day and as results are being announced.

We will maintain an Election Day blog on www.durangoherald.com to give you ongoing information about what’s happening with key players, community members and polling locations heading into the elections.

Once results start coming in, around 7:30 p.m. on Election Day, the 2020 Local Election Results page will give you up-to-date voter results. Reporters will be verifying information and updating articles until 10:30 p.m. for the Wednesday print issue. We’ll keep posting updates online until midnight.

The next day, we’ll go at it again – you’ll start getting updated results online around 10 a.m. or noon for any races that have yet to be called.

How do we choose sources and fact check information?We rely on sources who have direct access to the best information on an issue. For elections, that often means the county clerk, who must comply with legal frameworks while releasing voting results.

We also speak directly with candidates and groups tied to elections. Mainly, we want to hear from you. What has this election season been like for you? Have you seen political advertisements making questionable statements? Are you at a polling location that is having issues? Let us know.

When we get information, we check and double-check it. Reporters compare information between multiple sources. During two rounds of editing, editors ask reporters to check information again when necessary.

In our election coverage, if we receive unverified information, we will be clear that we have not yet verified the information. We’ll delete questionable/problematic information that we can’t verify, and follow up later if needed.

And if we do make a mistake, we correct it in the story, make a note at the end of the story and include a correction in the print issue. But we work hard to avoid mistakes.

How will we call elections?While Colorado has years of experience with mail-in voting, other states are expanding their mail-in voting efforts in response to the coronavirus pandemic. That means that some results might be slow to come in, particularly the presidential election.

It’s the media’s responsibility to call elections only after results have been verified. The Herald will look to The Associated Press for the final results of national elections. And the AP has a lot of practice – it has been calling elections for almost two centuries. In 2016, AP was 99.8% accurate in calling U.S. races, and 100% accurate in calling the presidential and congressional races for each state.

For local results, election officials are the best source of updated information. The Herald will draw results from the La Plata County Clerk and Recorder’s Office and the Colorado Secretary of State.

If there are too many ballots outstanding or the race is too tight, we won’t call it. Same goes if political candidates preemptively declare victory.

How can you stay up to date?The Herald’s 2020 Local Election Results page is your guide to all things voting both ahead of Nov. 3 and on Election Day. You can find the page by visiting www.durangoherald.com and clicking on the banner that says “2020 Local election coverage.”

If you’re still filling out your ballot, you can catch up on our coverage of top races and ballot measures to help you make your decision.

This page is also your best resource for up-to-date, verified election results. We’ll be digging deeper too – you’ll be able to dive into our in-depth coverage of key races and election blog on this page.

The reporting team will post updates on their personal Twitter accounts, and the Herald will update its Twitter and Facebook feeds.

To have updates sent to you, sign up for our newsletter or news alert notifications.

Who is on the 2020 election team?Patrick Armijo, education, business and real estate reporter: [email protected]Jonathan Romeo, county and environment reporter: [email protected]Shannon Mullane, Durango and Pine River Valley reporter: [email protected]Seth Marvin-Vanderryn, intern from Michigan State University and Durango High School graduate: [email protected]John Purcell, intern from American University in Washington, D.C.: [email protected]Jerry McBride, photo editor: [email protected]Shane Benjamin, deputy editor: [email protected]David Buck, copy editor: [email protected]Katie Chicklinski-Cahill, Arts & Entertainment editor and copy editor: [email protected]Trent Stephens, senior editor: [email protected]

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