Is A Picture Worth 600 Votes?

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When the courts ruled – on the day before election day — that Hamilton Township’s annual financial statement had to be made public, it created a thorny issue for the Trenton Times.

On one hand, since the statement revealed that the township was facing a $5 million budget shortfall, it was a legitimate news story – and a big one at that. On the other hand, with Hamilton’s election for mayor’s taking place on the day the story would run, the newspaper’s approach to coverage and the article’s placement were likely to impact voters going to the polls.

When the paper came out Election Day morning, the shortfall was its lead story with a headline proclaiming $5M shortfall for Hamilton on the top of page one. Later in the day, when the votes were tallied, incumbent Mayor Glen Gilmore, who had opposed the efforts to release the financial statement, had lost the election by about 600 votes.

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