Society Of Professional Journalists/Ohio's Best Journalism 2016 - Radio, Best Continuing Coverage

Apr 4, 2016

Welcome to Election Day 2015 - 24 hours of non-stop news condensed to just under 12 minutes.

(The Statehouse News Bureau is a three-member crew that provides coverage of government and politics for Ohio’s public radio listeners.  We are not a radio station, but produce spots and packages that air on Ohio’s 33 public radio stations.  We are the only broadcast journalists who are dedicated to daily Statehouse and government reporting.)

The 2015 election featured no statewide candidates, but still generated a lot of headlines. There were three ballot issues before voters, including one that would have made Ohio the first state in the nation to legalize recreational and medical marijuana in the same vote. But Issue 3 was a big deal because it would have allowed only 10 state-sanctioned sites to grow marijuana, and the investors in those sites had paid for the campaign for the ballot issue. Republican state officials who opposed marijuana legalization anyway seized on that, claiming Issue 3 would create a monopoly. So they put before voters their own issue, which would ban any person or group from creating a ballot issue that would guarantee them – and only them – a financial windfall. This measure, Issue 2, got attention because if it passed, it would make the marijuana issue null and void. Add to that Issue 1, which would make small changes in gerrymandering of state lawmakers’ districts, and we had a complicated, controversial election that was difficult to explain.

We spent months leading up to the election explaining the three issues from a variety of viewpoints – from the official backers, from the official opponents, from those who predicted chaos from legal pot, from pundits who predicted protracted lawsuits, and from voters who said they were interested but confused.  And then on Election Day, we were dedicated to covering all three issues and reaction to them.

On this entry, you’ll hear from voters we spoke with on the morning of Election Day. Then you’ll hear some spots that we provided to our stations for their live Election Night coverage. You’ll hear our spots on the wins by Issue 1 – the gerrymandering reform issue – and Issue 2 – the one that would prevent monopolies. And then you’ll hear a feature on the crushing defeat of Issue 3, the marijuana issue. Our coverage carries over into the following morning, when political leaders and activists shared their thoughts on the results – you’ll hear detailed reports on these complicated issues and the reactions to them. We pushed hard to cover all three of these issues late into the night and then early the next morning, and were the only broadcast journalists to do so.