Tuesday, November 29, 2011

SMN Endorsement of Local Candidate

I picked up a paper on Sunday and saw the Savannah Morning News’ editorial endorsement of Edna Jackson.  Prof. Dawers has already commented on this issue in his blog, but I had a few questions of my own:

1. Is the role of newspapers to provide support to local candidates or provide information about candidates? 

          •  I did some research on this topic, and found that many local newspapers have historically weighed in on political races, especially those for mayor.  The precedence, however, is falling out of favor and more newspapers are choosing to not endorse political candidates.  Also, it’s important to note that the company boards/owners of the newspaper often choose which candidate to support, so reporters are spared any conflicts of interest. 

2. Does the support of a newspaper actually bear any weight on the outcome of an election?

          •  On this, I’m not so sure.  I think it depends on how many people read the endorsement and are actually persuaded by it to vote accordingly.  In Savannah, I think that the endorsement does little to persuade a public mostly decided in its decision, since Jackson has received so much support from other influential sectors. 

The Savannah Morning News has a right to make known their own political leanings- they, too, are affected by the outcome as citizens – and as some of the most well-informed of citizens, the SMN should have a clear and thorough understanding of what Savannah needs.  But I think that the endorsement of local candidates is stale journalism – instead just post the candidates’ platforms, have local columnists and experts weigh in, and let the public decide.  

1 comment:

  1. I suspect that an endorsement like this matters relatively little so late in a race (months after the six candidates in the general election had begun campaigning). I also fear that in the ongoing dilemma of the profitability of print publications and dailies generally, the practice of endorsements -- of so clearly identifying the editorial page with a single candidate -- might not be in the long-term best interest of the companies that continue the practice. All that said, there's plenty of historical support for endorsements, and I think most would agree that newspapers have a role to play in charting a course and creating a vision for the future.