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Newspapers and political endorsements

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Devin, Feb 20, 2011.

  1. Devin

    Devin Member

    I don't know if this topic has been discussed before on this site, but do you guys think newspapers should be in the business of endorsing political candidates?

    Doesn't that go against the whole idea of journalism practicing objectivity?
  2. crimsonace

    crimsonace Active Member

    It's generally accepted that the editorial page is going to show opinion, and that is where endorsements are made.

    I'm not against it by any means, although I've never voted because the local newspaper endorsed a candidate. Usually, a newspaper with a left-of-center opinion page is going to endorse every Democrat and maybe a token Republican just to keep credibility, and a newspaper with a right-of-center edit page is going to endorse every Republican with a few token Democrats.
  3. BTExpress

    BTExpress Well-Known Member

    Of the 190 or so largest newspapers, Bush43 was endorsed by 138, Gore by 52.
  4. forever_town

    forever_town Well-Known Member

    One of the few issues on which I agreed with my former publisher and CEO was their decision not to endorse political candidates.

    I do not believe newspapers -- and editorials which purport to represent the newspaper's views -- should be in the business of telling voters which candidate to vote for. If a columnist wishes to endorse a candidate, that's one thing. However, I don't support a newspaper purporting to be able to tell me as a reader what to do at the ballot box.
  5. LongTimeListener

    LongTimeListener Well-Known Member

    On president, governor and the major state offices and initiatives, it's more self-serving than anything on the part of the newspaper. I don't feel like they knew any more than I did in Obama-McCain or, for my case, Meg Whitman-Jerry Brown.

    But in the local races they provide a valuable service. I simply am not an involved or informed enough political observer to know which three of the six candidates to choose for school board or city council. The editorial board invites all the candidates in and examines their positions. It's a nice clearinghouse. Yes, they are kingmakers to a large degree, but it's either that or people are going to vote simply based on the sound of a person's name.
  6. DanOregon

    DanOregon Well-Known Member

    I've never read them for the "who" but the "why."
  7. I Should Coco

    I Should Coco Well-Known Member

    Agree completely, LTL.

    Although ... back when I was a reporter, local elected officials never forgot if the paper endorsed their opponent.

    Most of them could understand that you, as a reporter, had nothing to do with the endorsement. But I recall a few who held grudges and were difficult to work with.
  8. terrier

    terrier Well-Known Member

    One chain of weeklies in my area had never endorsed a candidate in its 15 years of existence...until this past year's R.I. gubernatorial race. Does its editorial stance of "anyone but Chafee" qualify as an endorsement?!?
  9. nmmetsfan

    nmmetsfan Active Member

    Fully endorse this post
  10. Baron Scicluna

    Baron Scicluna Well-Known Member

    Unless it's a candidate that's so whacked out (a new Hitler), then no, I don't believe a paper should endorse anyone.

    I've said it before, but I found it rather hypocritical while working for Gannett that we had to sign statements saying that we had read Gannett's Principle of Ethics (or whatever the fuck it was called), which, among other things, listed that journalists weren't supposed to have any connections (like in business) because it could hurt our credibility.

    Well, to me, if it looks bad to our readers, then how bad does it look that a paper is covering an election, and then endorsing one of the candidates? Pure hypocrisy.

    Just the same, there was one Gannett paper that didn't allow journalists to put candidate bumper stickers on their cars during a presidential election, for fear that the readers would see the cars and come to their own conclusions about bias. But the paper themselves endorsing candidates ... that is OK. Hypocrisy.
  11. BitterYoungMatador2

    BitterYoungMatador2 Well-Known Member

    If you really want to be a curator for democracy the way these paper owners would like you to believe they are, you take five platform topics, ask each candidate for a response on each and then print them, then let the readers go over the information so they can then make...hahahahah...an informed decision on their own, rather then an editorial board beating your over the head with who they think you should vote for.

    Not to mention, with too few companies owning too many newspapers I think you have the interests of the company starting to trump the interests of the regions where the papers are. Think a Singeton paper would ever endorse a candidate that's pro union, even if that candidiate's the best choice?
  12. SF_Express

    SF_Express Active Member

    The theory, of course, is roughly that the endorsements come from the newspaper as a keystone business of the community and are completely separate from the editorial department. It has been that way for many years, but I wonder if readers were ever able to distinguish the difference.
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