Wednesday, May 06, 2009

On equal space

As I've noted in my earlier posts, for the most part the Saskatchewan NDP's response to the Lingenfelter membership controversy has been exemplary. But I'll note one possible question as to how the party has publicized the issue.

Until yesterday, the NDP's Leadership News page consisted entirely of two different types of stories: a single announcement of each candidate's entry into the race, and subsequent news from the party about scheduling, membership sales, and other matters which are entirely neutral among the leadership contestants.

But in dealing with the membership issue, the party has posted a statement of responsibility from Lingenfelter without any concurrent space being given to the other candidates.

It's understandable that the NDP would have to post something in explanation for its move to pull the questioned memberships. And obviously Lingenfelter would be the only candidate with information to offer about exactly what happened.

That said, though, it's far from clear why the NDP's news item couldn't have been written from the party's perspective rather than Lingenfelter's - or why it couldn't at least have been kept free of at least some spin about both the incident and the wider campaign. And if there was some particularly important reason to allow Lingenfelter to frame his own message, it's hard to see why the other candidates wouldn't receive some space to do the same.

Of course, the NDP is having to walk a fine line in determining how to deal with the Lingenfelter issue. But however unfortunate it is that the campaign is drawing more eyes over a controversy than it did for anything else so far, it doesn't help matters if anybody visiting the leadership news site for the first time is now seeing PR from Lingenfelter alone. And considering how easily that could seemingly be fixed, it hopefully won't take long for the party to return to its well-established policy of keeping the candidates on an indisputably equal footing.

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