Political endorsements by newspapers do serve a purpose

Today's editorial in our local newspaper notifies readers that the publication will no longer issue endorsements for political candidates, ending what I assume is a decades-long practice that still exists at many - if not most - print media. [The practice of political endorsements by newspapers goes back more than 150 years, according to this fascinating analysis.]
On its Facebook page, the Midland Reporter Telegram solicits opinions as to whether it's appropriate for the media to endorse candidates for office. The responses weren't numerous, but they were unanimous in condemning the practice.
I don't care one way or the other. Whether it arises from a multi-person board or a single editor, a newspaper or magazine endorsement carries no more weight with me than that of any other reasonably informed individual. In fact, an explicit endorsement is much preferred from the more insidious implicit endorsements that often permeate a publication through biased reporting and slanted coverage of the candidates and campaigns. Figure out a way to end that and I'll support your Nobel prize nomination.
In fact, the on-the-record endorsements have often served as validation for my own positions, although perhaps in a different way than the publication intended. For example, it's almost guaranteed that when the New York Times endorses a candidate for office, that person's opponent will get my support. (The last Republican presidential candidate endorsed by the Times was Dwight Eisenhower, in 1952. It's hard to believe, but I was too young to vote.) In the unlikely event that that newspaper ever adopts a bias-free reporting philosophy (and hires a staff that can put it in place), my entire political strategy will be cast adrift*.
*Just kidding. I have no political strategy.

1 Comment

I was endorsed by the MRT twice. The first time, I won. The second time, I lost. As a candidate, I never knew if being endorsed was as asset, but I always enjoyed the interview with the editorial staff. It was fun to discuss issues with informed people.

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This page contains a single entry by Eric published on February 17, 2014 8:02 PM.

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