Opening up the Observer: It's a soapbox, not the soap

Retailers spend the year preparing for the holiday shopping season. For accountants, the big month is April. For newspapers, it’s whenever there is a major election–which is how I’d classify the selection of Cuyahoga County’s first county executive and its new 11-member council.

The election is in two parts: a partisan primary on Sept. 7, and the general election Nov. 2. Voters will cast two ballots – one for the county executive, and another for a single district representative. Cleveland Heights is in District 10; University Heights is in District 11.

As an entity that relies almost solely on submissions from community members, we’re not covering the election like a traditional newspaper, which would present a “comprehensive package” of interviews and insights on every candidate.

If we ended up with contributions from every candidate (there are 27 in all for county executive and the two relevant districts) we wouldn’t be able to fit them all into the newspaper. That’s why, among other election items this month, we’ve published a policy on contributions from candidates.

In a nutshell, it states that from August-November we will not print anything on any topic that was written by a candidate. Why? Because we don’t have space in that time frame to offer equal consideration to every other candidate. We will continue to run any candidate contributions at our website, where space isn’t an issue. Our policy also states that the Observer and its nonprofit parent, FutureHeights, do not endorse or support candidates. It’s a soapbox, not the soap.

You’ll also find in this issue a brief article that lists the candidates and offers some resources to find information about them, which I hope everyone will do. Our fellow Observer papers in other communities have interviewed some of the candidates and we've posted those interviews at

As a volunteer newspaper that publishes once a month, the Observer simply isn’t going to succeed as your primary information source about this important election. Instead, the goal is to be even handed with the information we receive.

Bob Rosenbaum, Chairman of the Observer's editorial advisory committee and member of the FutureHeights board, writes this column to provide transparency and understanding about the Observer. Send questions to

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Volume 3, Issue 8, Posted 4:12 PM, 07.28.2010