The Valdosta Daily Times Pulse of the Voter series continues in today’s newspaper.
It is part of a companywide reporting project. The Times joined its sister newspapers located throughout the nation asking people what they think and how they feel as the next presidential election nears.
It is no secret that the media missed the boat in the last presidential election.
The media was surprised, caught off guard and even shocked when Donald J. Trump defeated Hilary Clinton to become the President of the United States.
If we had been paying attention, we would not have been so surprised.
Across the nation, journalists were listening to one another, siloing ourselves in a proverbial echo chamber and not listening to the general public.
We did not hear the dissatisfaction with the status quo.
We did not hear hear the ground swell of support for Trump, especially among working class Americans.
We did not hear the rejection of Hilary Clinton.
We didn’t hear because we were not listening.
Or at least we were not listening to the right people, the people who knew how they were going to vote — the voters themselves.
We don’t ever want to be that arrogant again.
Just by the very nature of what we do, journalists should be the best listeners in the world.
Regardless of our values — values that we stand by — we should not be surprised by the results of an election simply because we failed to check the pulse of the voters in real and meaningful ways.
So, we launched Pulse of the Voters, not to tell you what we think and feel, not to lay out our political agenda, but to ask you what’s on your mind.
And you told us.
The newspaper is happy to share your thoughts with readers.
Our community has a lot of conservative, very conservative, thinkers.
There are also progressive, left-leaning partisans in our community.
All the men and women we spoke to, those on the left and those on the right, are good people.
They were respectful but often very direct and plain spoken. And we wouldn’t have it any other way.
Journalists conducting interviews were careful not to put words in people’s mouths.
In fact, they worked hard to talk less and listen more.
That is something that we could all learn from every day of our lives.
Newspapers, business relationships, personal relationships and life in general would be better for everyone if we would all learn to talk less and listen more.