07/05/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Norton's Lost Years

If you're a reporter, and you're writing a few sentences about U.S. Senate candidate Jane Norton's career, what do you leave out from list below?

» 1986-1987 - Norton served in the Colorado House of Representatives.
» 1998-1993 - Norton worked in the Department of Health and Human Services under Presidents Bush and Reagan.
» 1994-1999 - She was Head of the Office of Strategic Partnerships a Medical Group Management Association (MGMA).
» 1999-2002 - She was Executive Director, Colorado Department of Public Health.
» 2002-2006 - She was Colorado Lt. Governor under Gov. Bill Owens.
» 2007 - Named executive Director of the Denver Police Foundation.

Yesterday, Fox 21 in Colorado Springs described Norton this way:

Norton served in both the Reagan and first Bush administrations. She was also a representative in the state Legislature before becoming Colorado's first woman Lieutenant Governor under Gov. Bill Owens.

Even for a short TV profile, descriptions of Norton should include her jobs that occupied the longest period of her work life (her years at MGMA and in Washington DC) and her most important position (Colorado's Lt. Governor).

These three jobs give us an understanding of both her private and public sector history. And a quick description of them provides the most even-handed summary of Norton's background.

In the example above, Fox 21 randomly threw in Norton's stint in the Legislator and left out the MGMA job. I like some random qualities of life, but they don't work well in political journalism.

I know reporters want to keep things simple, and you can predict that many people will have no clue what Norton did when she headed MGMA's "Office of Strategic Releationships." So a reporter might ask, why confuse people?

Well, here's what MGMA's Office of Strategic Relationships is: the lobbying department. That's simple enough. Norton headed up MGMA's lobbying department--a fact readily confirmed by the folks at MGMA.

As for MGMA, it's an association of medical professionals.

Fox 21 isn't the only Colorado media outlet that's failing to describe Norton's career fairly. I wrote previously about another outlet doing the same thing. It's a small but significant mistake to do so.

There's plenty of time for reporters to give us a full picture of Jane Norton, even in the most truncated of bios.