Down East 2013 ©
Why bother? The Bangor Daily News knows how to report on big political races. The paper has traditionally hired solid staff writers for the beat — Kevin Miller  is the latest in a distinguished pedigree that’s included the likes of A.J. Higgins  and the late Davis Rawson — and devoted considerable additional resources to making sure it thoroughly reported on all elections for major office in Maine.
So, what’s with the BDN’s crappy legislative coverage?
Instead of writing real stories about candidates for the state House and Senate, the Bangor paper sends out questionnaires that ask where they live, what their e-mail addresses are, who’s in their immediate families, their work experience, and their top priorities if elected.
The result gets printed in little boxes scattered through the local section in no particular order. As far as I can tell, the paper doesn’t even bother to post this worthless blather on its Web site.
No wonder. Nearly every legislative hopeful writes just about the same thing. The top priorities of the three candidates in House District 9, published in the October 13 edition, were, “Boost industry and tourism, bring back jobs for the region and save community schools,” “Curb state spending, create jobs and education,” and “Jobs, education and reducing taxes.”
This stuff doesn’t do anything to help voters make up their minds. To accomplish that, the BDN would have had to ask for a few positions on real issues. Such as:
Where would the candidates cut the budget? Where would they increase it? Tax hikes? Tax cuts? How would they help create jobs? Keep Dirigo Health or dump it? School reform? If so, what kind? Pro or con on the North Woods National Park? Where do they stand on gun control? Same-sex marriage? Tax reform?
Surely adding questions on those topics and compiling the answers wouldn’t place excessive demands on the paper’s staff. Equally surely, doing so would be providing a service to the public.
I understand that the BDN can’t manage a detailed story on every legislative race in its coverage area, since that would involve reporting on nearly half the districts in the state. But in addition to the feeble questionnaires, perhaps it could single out a few key races, ones that might help decide the balance of power in the new Legislature, for actual coverage.
That, combined with an enhanced questionnaire, would at least boost the BDN’s coverage out of the embarrassing category.
Unregulated English: Headline  in the October 9 Bangor Daily News:
“People in Washington County gather to decry the fairness of Maine’s business regulations”
Curse you, reasonable regulators, they shouted.
Al Diamon can be e-mailed at email@example.com .