Blogs » Your Advocate: an editor's blog » Should newspapers offer election endorsements?

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When our editorial board offered its election endorsements recently, I tried to explain in a post why newspapers do this and how these positions don't affect our news coverage.

I don't know, though, whether these endorsements serve their intended purpose of encouraging voter participation or hurt the newspaper's credibility. The managing editor of Time magazine suggests in a recent article that newspapers should abandon the time-honored practice of election endorsements. "Why do it at a time when the credibility and viability of the press are at all-time lows? More important, why do it at a time when readers, especially young readers, question the objectivity of newspapers in particular and the media in general?" he writes.

USA Today founder Al Neuharth has long argued against newspaper endorsements.  He does, though, in a 2006 column see value in newspapers providing guidance through the maze of ballot initiatives.

Consultant Jim Pumarlo makes a strong case for election endorsements and outlines how to handle them in this article. "If newspapers tout their roles as government watchdogs, endorsing candidates for elected bodies should be at the top of editors' responsibilities," he writes.

The Advocate offers endorsements only for state and federal offices and issues. We have not traditionally endorsed local candidates. The thinking has been that most interested people have the opportunity to get to know the local candidates but don't have the same ability with those running for state and national offices.

What do you think? Should we quit offering election endorsements? Or should we go the other way and start endorsing in local races?

Our editorial board meets at 1:30 p.m. Thursdays. If you or your organization ever wants to visit, give me or Community Conversation Editor Tim Delaney a call at 361-574-1222.