By: Kristina Ackermann
October is here and the first debate of 2012 is already behind us, which means that newspapers across the country are beginning to issue their endorsements — or non-endorsements — for this year’s presidential election.
As in past election years, E&P will be keeping a running tally of which newspapers endorse which candidate. While a handful of papers have already published editorials endorsing either President Barack Obama or Republican contender Mitt Romney, far more have stated that they will not issue any endorsement in the presidential race.
This year, perhaps more so than in any other, much debate has centered around whether newspapers should endorse any candidate at all. We posed this question in our Critical Thinking department in the August issue of E&P, and response was pretty evenly divided. On the Huffington Post, Larry Atkins argues that newspapers should continue to issue endorsements on local races but need not endorse a presidential candidate, citing the declining readership and influence of newspapers.
Of those publishers who have expressly stated they will not issue any endorsement, several have told me they believe that the role of the newspaper is to inform the public about the issues, not to tell people how to vote. If the newspaper is doing its job, then readers should be knowledgeable enough to come to their own conclusions at the voting booth. Others have said they just don’t think readers respond to newspaper endorsements in the Internet age.
This year, it will be interesting to see how Obama, the most endorsed Democrat in modern history, does in terms of both endorsements and voter support. Most incumbents lose support for their re-election campaigns, although they are still re-elected most of the time.
To view our most current tally of newspaper endorsements, go to editorandpublisher.com/election
There’s also a Wikipedia page listing the 2008 endorsements that’s worth visiting:
To have your newspaper’s endorsement added to our database, send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Whom we endorse for president is of little value. To eschew endorsements altogether, however, doesn’t follow. With municipal-level judgeships, school-board seats and other local races for which readers have few other sources of information, an endorsement adds value. And who else to do it but us? Acknowledging that, at the South Florida SunSentinel this year we reversed a practice of endorsing only in a few, selected races. We will endorse in all 62 contested races in our coverage area. A chore? You bet. But it’s the right thing to do for our readers.
Local endorsements still valuable
I had to laugh (or maybe cry)…they believe that the role of the newspaper is to inform the public about the issues, not to tell people how to vote. Wouldn’t it be nice if that were the case and the issues were covered in a fair, non-slanted manner. That’s assuming all the issues were actually covered; not just the ones of political import to the paper’s top brass. It’s no wonder the news media is being held in its lowest regard right now.
Who needs to endorse when you can slant the news