Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Pick 'em

Four years ago, our newspaper made a much ballyhooed stand and opted not to make any editorial page endorsements in the 2004 elections.

In short, we said that since newspapers had been widely criticized by those who incorrectly thought endorsements translated into favorable news coverage for our chosen candidates, and others thought it presumptuous for newspapers to "tell you" what to do in the voting booth, we'd sit it out.

We invited reader feedback and it was split. Roughly half missed the endorsements and the other half said, "Good riddance."

We got back into the endorsement game the next year and have been making recommendations each election season since then. And each year, I'm reminded why we wanted to stay on the sidelines.

Here are some of the off-the-wall comments that have been circulating:

1. "You picked the candidates who spent the most money on political advertising with you."

2. "Your reporter has a job lined up in the administration of one of the candidates you endorsed."

3. "You didn't pick the incumbent because he isn't talking to your newspaper."

4. "The publisher serves on a board with the congressman, and that's why he was endorsed."

5. "Your editor has a lawn sign for Obama."

Not one of the aforementioned claims is true.

The facts are:

1. As of this afternoon, most local candidates have not purchased any advertising from us. Newspapers long ago lost this advertising segment to the broadcasters and direct mail. But of the money that has been spent, a good deal of it has come from candidates we didn't endorse. Anyway, if you've been a reader of this paper for longer than a day-and-a-half, you must know by now that advertising dollars don't translate into favorable news and editorial page coverage here. I won't allow it.

2. The reporter with the alleged post-election job is livid that her reputation for integrity - well-earned, as far as I'm concerned, after nearly two decades with us - is being sullied. Fortunately for us, she has no intention of leaving to go to the "dark side" of political PR.

3. You can ask the incumbent why he hasn't spoken to us for a while. (He's not been shy in telling anyone who'll listen.) But we stopped endorsing him (and other majority party state legislators) long before he began giving our people the cold shoulder.

4. Yes, I have served on a board with a local congressman. It meets once a year and I believe he's missed the last two sessions. Oh, and he's also had a love-hate relationship with us. These days he's answering our reporters' questions. Sometimes he gets into a snit about our coverage and clams up. In fact, when he visited our editorial board a few weeks ago, it was the first time I'd seen or spoken to him in over a year, I'd guess. Come to think of it, I've also served on board with other politicians we've not endorsed or about whom we haven't always written favorably.

5. The neighbor of our managing editor has an Obama lawn sign. His wife has an Obama bumper sticker on her car. That's her business, not ours.

For the record, our editorial board has shrunk in recent months. For years it consisted of me, Managing Editor Sam Daleo, Assistant Managing Editor Tony Adamis and Political Editor Hugh Reynolds. But with the departure of Reynolds and Daleo this year, currently Adamis and I make the editorial page decisions. Nobody else. Not corporate. Not advertisers. Not friends and neighbors and community board mates. Just the two of us. Hopefully, when the economics of our business improve, I'll be able to add other voices to our team.

Meantime, we'll continue to call them as we see them. If our selections make sense to you, great. If not, that's OK, too. As we say every year when we summarize the endorsements in editorials that are published on Election Day and the day before, please vote. The final choices are yours.
comments powered by Disqus

<< Home