News That Matters

How the Times Union covers elections and politics


The Times Union works every day to produce fair and reliable journalism to help voters make informed choices and understand their communities.

Through resources like our voters guide, the Times Union gives readers information on all candidates running for elected office in the communities we cover. A primary objective of our election coverage is to enable voters to make informed choices about candidates and political issues. We strive to cover all parties and interest groups in a nonpartisan and unbiased fashion. We also have a responsibility to be a watchdog of those in power and aspiring to wield it, and to seek solutions to problems in our communities. 

Our coverage of candidates and political topics may vary based on the following factors: How many people are influenced by this candidate or political issue? How relevant is the candidate or political issue to local community members’ daily lives? Would a reasonable person believe the candidate’s actions or the political issue are new and noteworthy? We’re not able to cover every candidate for office in every race in the Capital Region and Hudson Valley, so we may produce more in-depth coverage of races for the most powerful political offices, races readers demonstrate interest in and races that are competitive. 

We never accept payments or gifts of any kind from sources. While candidates or government agencies may pitch stories to us, we use our independent judgment to assess if those issues are newsworthy to our communities.

How do you choose sources?

Our reporters try  to connect with more sources for factual and important information about our communities. To guide and inform our work, we seek the help of people who are experts in their fields and everyday people who know their communities. In order to eliminate “blind spots” in our coverage, we endeavor to interview sources from diverse backgrounds and with varying experiences who may bring different perspectives to our journalism. Whether it’s a document or a quote, we also use primary sources, or first-hand accounts, when they are available. Every source named in a story has an opportunity to comment, regardless of whether they choose to do so.

What about anonymous sources?

We use anonymous sources only when necessary. We primarily use them when there is strong evidence that revealing the source’s identity would bring personal or professional harm to them and the information they possess can’t be obtained elsewhere. When we use an anonymous source, we employ a rigorous process to check what they say. Use of an anonymous source must be approved by an editor. We do not grant anonymity for the purpose of making a political or personal attack.

Can Times Union reporters participate in politics?

While Times Union reporters are permitted to vote, they must demonstrate professional objectivity at all times and may not engage in other political activities. They may not give money to or raise money for candidates or political causes, register in a political party, seek public office, display campaign paraphernalia, march or protest in reaction to public causes or movements or endorse candidates.

Reporters must be aware of their own biases and work with their editors to ensure their journalism encompasses a multitude of view points and all the relevant facts. Reporters cannot report on subjects where they have a conflict of interest, such as a family member or close friend working at the company or in the field.

These and other issues are covered by the Times Union’s standards and practices, which all newsroom staffers are required to follow.

Why does the Times Union editorial board endorse candidates?

Like many news organizations, the Times Union has a long tradition of endorsing candidates in elections. We believe that our deep attention to government and politics, and the access we have to elected officials and candidates, affords us an opportunity — and a responsibility — to offer an informed opinion on races. We don’t weigh in on all races, but have focused in recent years mainly on the more competitive and high-profile ones. 

Editor-in-chief Casey Seiler explained why the Times Union endorses candidates in a recent column. He wrote: “Editorials are meant to express a sharp point of view that’s based on the best information available to the people writing them. Why should that not apply to the candidates who are vying for the chance to set public policy — on the environment, education, crime, and every other topic that should matter to citizens — as well as opining on the policies themselves?”

How does the editorial board endorse candidates?

The editorial board considers the candidates’ positions on key issues, their relevant experience for the job, their track record in the community and government, their temperament, and their forthrightness, among other things. In many cases the board interviews the candidates as well, especially when we feel there are outstanding questions that news coverage, debates, their own web sites and other sources of information haven’t answered.

Does the editorial board influence reporters to write favorable articles about endorsed candidates?

As our editorial policy states, while the Times Union’s news coverage frequently informs our editorials, the board’s opinions have no bearing on that coverage. 

Do you have other questions about the Times Union’s political coverage?

Please share your questions or comments with us. We welcome your feedback and are committed to continual improvement.

This is a living document that will be updated with more Q&As as needed based on the feedback we receive through community listening. It may be updated more than once before or after the 2022 election.



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