Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Newspaper Endorsements Raise Questions from Readers

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Newspaper Endorsements Raise Questions from Readers

Article excerpt

Byline: Mike Clark, Times-Union Reader Advocate

Political endorsements are sure to make friends and enemies.

Whether they make a difference to voters is questionable, but candidates act like they do. For instance, mayoral candidate John Peyton mentioned the Times-Union's editorial page endorsement of his candidacy in a recent debate.

So readers have been asking questions.

-- One reader asked how the Times-Union could allow critical comments toward Peyton by columnists Ronald Littlepage and Tonyaa Weathersbee. Doesn't there come a time when you go along with management's decision? My comment: In the interest of fairness and balance, the personal views of the columnists provide readers another perspective. That diversity helps a newspaper's credibility.

-- Another reader said the newspaper's endorsement of Peyton had strained her relationship with the paper. Why endorse candidates at all?

Editor & Publisher, the newspaper trade magazine, notes that more newspapers have stopped endorsing candidates over the last 50 years. The magazine commissioned a survey before the 2002 presidential election. A total of 193 newspaper editors and publishers were polled. About half of them said that readers perceive their newspapers are partisan if they endorse a candidate, though they don't believe that actually is the case. About 75 percent of the newspapers surveyed made endorsements.

My comments: Editorial page endorsements may alienate some readers and create an impression of bias among some readers. The alternative, though, is worse. Readers would be guessing about which candidate the newspaper supports. A newspaper should take strong stands and not pull punches when it matters the most.

-- A reader, with a Peyton sign in her front yard, objected to a slick Nat Glover campaign brochure she received at home. It included headlines and the opening paragraph of several Times-Union news stories. It seemed to be placing the newsroom in Glover's camp. …

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