Covering The Governor
It's about more than just the event.
When the Governor of West Virginia...or Ohio...comes to the area to participate in an event, it's an opportunity for us to talk to him not only about the event itself, but whatever else is in the news at the moment.
Parkersburg is 80 miles from Charleston, and more than 120 miles from Columbus, so it's not feasible for us to regularly travel to those locations to interview the top officeholders of those two states.
So when West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin came to Parkersburg Wednesday to participate in the presentation of Promise Scholarships to Parkersburg Catholic High School students, it was a chance to discuss with him two events in the news West Virginians have been talking about lately.
One, of course, was the recent controversy surrounding his daughter, who, it has been reported, was retroactively awarded a master's degree she did not earn.
The other, is who Manchin will endorse for the Democratic Presidential nomination. West Virginia's two U.S. Senators have endorsed Senator Barack Obama, but Manchin is still publicly "on the fence".
I questioned Manchin on both issues after his presentation to the students...after, as is my custom, getting comments from him about the ceremony itself.
The stories we aired on our evening newscasts, in one fashion or another, mentioned all three issues. The story we aired on our 11 P.M. news discussed the awards ceremony ahead of everything else.
That apparently didn't please some people from Parkersburg Catholic, one of whom told me people at the school
said it detracted from the coverage of the ceremony. The caller even said we wouldn't give other schools the same consideration.
I disagree. Back in 2003, then-Governor Bob Wise presented Promise Scholarships to students at Parkersburg South High School, just days after news broke that Wise had had an affair with a state employee.
We certainly reported the Promise ceremony. But our coverage of the Governor's visit was dominated by his comments about the affair, the first he had made publicly since the stories came out.
Parkersburg Catholic, which indeed may not get the attention Wood County's other high schools get, may be offended about how we handled the story. But I wouldn't have handled it differently if Governor Manchin had appeared at any other school, and no slight was intended.