Most of the Portland media didn't pay special attention to the Oct. 19 mayoral debate at Catlin Gabel School between Rep. Jefferson Smith (D-East Portland) and former City Commissioner Charlie Hales.
But the student journalists at the school newspaper, CatlinSpeak, the debate's host, have done an impressive job in their coverage of the debate, now available on the paper's web site.
The 20-person staff (including former WW intern Fiona Noonan, a CatlinSpeak co-editor) zero in on key differences between the candidates during the debate. They also give readers a side-by-side comparison of the candidates' stands, and how Hales' and Smith's views might affect issues important to Portland's youth. The site also includes videos, interviews, and behind-the-debate-curtain narratives. The journalists also went looking for a lighter side of Hales and Smith.
And the paper's conclusion about who won the debate?
Smith, the paper's editorial says, "consistently spoke with passion and charisma. Throughout the debate he remained focused and prepared, and displayed his understanding of how to effectively communicate with and engage a large audience."
Hales, the paper said, was "vague.... (He) sometimes failed to completely answer our questions, and often could not match Smith’s thorough responses."