Inside LINK is a weekly column from our CEO, Lacy Starling. If you have questions you’d like Lacy to answer, email her at [email protected].
Our first reporting hire, when we formed LINK, was Mark Payne, our government and politics reporter. This wasn’t an accident.
We knew that the single largest piece missing from NKY Metro news was coverage of our elected officials, their elections, and the work they did after they were voted into office. Research clearly shows that local news coverage is strongly correlated to civic engagement, including voting and even how many candidates run for office.
Mark spent the entire legislative session living in Frankfort, covering how the NKY caucus performed, and how they represented the NKY Metro. After sine die, he returned to his home in Latonia and got to work covering the primaries, along with the rest of our staff.
It would have been easy – and perhaps expected – that after the primary, Mark would shift into a lower gear, and spend the summer writing fewer pieces and resting up for the general election.
And that’s what other media did. NKY got some coverage from the major media outlets for the primary, but after the votes were counted and the winners announced, they went back across the river, not to return until things start getting warmed up for the general election in the fall.
But not Mark.
Since May 17th, he’s continued to work, covering developments in abortion, tax law, redistricting in Campbell County Schools, and many other issues. He even wrote a story about the huge power outage in June while his own power was still out. All told, since the election, Mark has written more than 70 stories about local politics and government, giving NKY a depth of coverage they haven’t seen in decades.
Most recently, Mark has been working a story about the recount effort happening in Campbell County in the 24th Senate District, where losing candidate Jessica Neal recently posted a $57,368 bond in order to start the recount of votes in her primary race.
Mark’s been on that story since the beginning, and yesterday, he published a bombshell – the Boone County GOP had received a $25,000 private donation to help fund Neal’s recount efforts.
Details are still being uncovered, but the initial story alone was enough to grab the attention of KY Secretary of State Michael Adams, who has some questions about the legality of the donation and its use.
Mark continues to work on this story, and I can’t wait to see what comes next.
This story, and stories like this, where we can shine light on the processes and financial backing of our electoral and governmental processes and deliver that information to our readers, is the reason we exist. LINK was formed to give the people of the NKY Metro access to this information, explained clearly and not tucked behind a paywall.
You, the people of NKY, deserve reporting like Mark’s. You deserve to know what’s going on before, during and after you elect someone to public office. You deserve to have reporters who won’t just drop in once every two years to cover the elections that affect your everyday lives as though they were races at Turfway Park.
I’m proud of Mark, and of the work he’s doing and will continue to do. I am following this recount case closely, and I hope you will as well. How our elections are financed and run is foundational to our democracy, and having a local press that covers them is, too.