By: Mark Fitzgerald

A Report From the Annual ASNE Convention

WASHINGTON – Renewing his challenge for a twice-weekly series of
debates with expected GOP presidential nominee George W. Bush, Vice
President Al Gore invited any and all newspapers attending the American
Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE) annual convention this morning to
sponsor a campaign debate.

‘I will accept a debate challenge from any newspaper in this room,’
Gore told the editors assembled here. ‘You propose a debate, and I’ll
accept. And then you go ask Gov. Bush and see if he accepts it.’

Tom Koenninger of The Columbian in Vancouver, Wash., was the first
editor to issue an invitation. ‘I accept,’ Gore said quickly. Then he
told Koenninger, ‘But you’ve got to get Gov. Bush there. That’s part of
the deal.’

Bush has been cool to Gore’s proposal for a long series of single-topic
debates. Democrat candidate Gore issued the challenge in March after
primary victories left him and Bush as the presumptive nominees of
their respective political parties.

In his speech to ASNE, Gore reminisced about his five years as a
reporter and editorial writer at The Tennessean in Nashville during the
early 1970s. Relating a series of anecdotes about a newsroom practical
joker, Gore finally interrupted himself saying, ‘I need to get to some
issues here,’ … before telling two more stories.

Gore credited journalism with re-instilling a sense of idealism after
he returned from service as an Army journalist in the Vietnam War ‘as
thoroughly a disillusioned a young man as you’d ever want to meet.

‘It was through the profession of journalism that I rediscovered what
is so precious about this country and how democracy worked, and that’s
going to sound a little corny,’ Gore said. Covering local government,
he added, ‘I began to have trouble keeping my objectivity – keeping
‘Just the facts, ma’am,’ in the stories.’


Mark Fitzgerald (mfitzgerald@editorandpublisher.com) is editor
at large for Editor & Publisher magazine.

(c) Copyright 2000, Editor & Publisher

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