OUR VIEW: Why we endorseThe elections are over. Life returns to normal.
By: Editorial board, The Daily Republic
The elections are over. Life returns to normal.
That goes for The Daily Republic’s Opinion page, too. The past two weeks have seen this section filled to the brim with letters to the editor and op/ed submissions from around the state.
We don’t recall an election that has produced so many letters and submissions. It appears politics is alive and well among The Daily Republic’s readers.
That deep political interest among our readers is part of the reason The Daily Republic still endorses candidates and issues.
Some newspapers have steered away from making political endorsements. Likewise, some feel it’s an outdated practice and one that deserves to be shelved.
We don’t believe that. Not at all.
Why does The Daily Republic endorse political candidates and issues? Here are four reasons.
1) Access and responsibility: We have closer access to candidates and issue information than most voters. Candidates, along with ballot issue proponents and opponents, regularly visit The Daily Republic during the campaign season to spread their message, explain their positions and cultivate a positive public image. With that closer access, we believe, comes a responsibility to tell our readers what we think about the people we’ve met and the issues we’ve discussed. Our editor and publisher, who make up the editorial board, are uniquely positioned to do that since they don’t participate in daily reporting. As managers rather than reporters, they are able to separate themselves from the day-to-day work of objective reporting and express their opinions without poisoning the reportersource relationship.
Why don’t we endorse local races? Because in a small community like ours, it’s difficult to cast aside professional and personal relationships, claims of nepotism and the many potential conflicts of interest that exist. We therefore limit our endorsements to races of statewide and national interest.
2) Demand: Readers and politicians want to know what we think. Every election cycle, newspaper endorsements are eagerly anticipated. Readers discuss and debate them, and those who win the endorsements tout them in news releases and advertising campaigns. It’s an indication of the respected position held by newspapers and the degree to which people expect to hear their newspaper’s opinion.
We routinely seek out the opinions and feelings of our readers, our sources and our elected leaders. We often chastise leaders when they do not have an opinion or fail to make their opinions known. Why should we be immune?
3) Variety: A good newspaper doesn’t just carry objective news reports. It also publishes photographs, community announcements, feature stories, sports news, advice columns, comics, opinion cartoons, classifieds, advertisements and other items. An opinion page with an editorial written by the newspaper’s editorial board has always been a vital part of the recipe for a good newspaper, and if a newspaper is committed to expressing its opinion, every topic is fair game.
The Daily Republic generally publishes an opinion each day.
4) Free speech: Newspapers should objectively report the news, but they should also boldly use their editorial voice to argue for and against candidates and issues they care about. If they don’t, they only partially utilize the First Amendment free speech rights they claim to stand for so strongly. It’s not enough for a newspaper to be an observer of public discourse. It should also be a participant.
A good newspaper doesn’t just tell readers what happened yesterday. A good newspaper strives to get to the root of the issues and tell stories that are important to its readers.
A good newspaper has the nerve to have an opinion and clearly state it. If for no other reason, it’s to get its readers thinking and to start discussions and public dialogue.
A good newspaper is readable, and opinions — whether from us or from our readers — definitely are readable.
That is why we endorse.