Thursday, October 30, 2014

Should Journalists Endorse Political Candidates?

Newspapers and other journalistic outlets have been endorsing political candidates for a long time, as far back as the early 1800s.

This week, the Philadelphia Inquirer made an unusual decision - to not endorse anyone in next week's Pennsylvania gubernatorial election.

“Instead of an endorsement for governor," publisher Gerry Lenfest wrote in Sunday's newspaper, "I asked the editorial boards of both the Inquirer and the Daily News to provide a summary of where the candidates stand on the critical issues facing the state, as well as the positions each paper has taken on those issues, and then let the voters decide who they think is most qualified. My aim is simple: to help people make informed decisions about their vote. We will still endorse certain candidates in the future.”

Should journalists and their editorial boards announce endorsements for elections or is the Inquirer acting in the best interests of the public?


Faissal Darwish said...

Based on Kovach and Rosenstiel's statement which goes along the lines of, "journalism must provide a forum for public criticism," I believe the Inquirer is acting in the best interests of the public.

To elaborate, by the editorial boards of the Inquirer and the Daily News providing summaries of where the candidates stand on critical issues, they are proving their "loyalty to citizens" as they are solely reporting facts, the way journalists should, rather than interpreting them, and therefore the published articles will turn out unbiased, allowing readers to sway in which ever direction they feel will benefit them most.

Also, it doesn't matter that Lenfest donated $250,000 to Tom Corbett's campaign because he is doing it on his own, personal terms. Lenfest is not associating the donation to the newspaper, and so he has the right to do whatever he wants, especially since his donation would not, or at least should not, have any impact on whoever people vote for as governor.

jay said...

I think what the Inquirer did in regards to publishing factual information on both running parties is a lot more "journalistic", per se, than siding with one particular candidate. By remaining neutral, the Inquirer is providing the public with the ability to form their own opinions based on the information they provide. I feel as though any sort of newspaper, magazine, blog, online publication, etc. that reaches a wider, more diverse audience should not endorse one specific idea but rather provide the reader with both sides of the argument to make their own decision. Journalists aren't supposed to interpret our information for us, they're simply acting as our source, and in order to be a trusted source, those journalists should prove that they can broadcast news without letting their own ideas and views taint the information they are providing.
Lenfest clearly supports Corbett, but by allowing the Inquirer and Daily News to portray both candidates equally, he paved way for both these news outlets to be reliable sources. And after all, isn't that what journalism is supposed to be about?

Victoria Glammer said...

I agree with the decision of the Philadelphia Inquirer to not endorse a candidate. Why? Well, choosing a candidate is choosing a side. It is choosing to back up that candidate. I feel as though if they chose to endorse a candidate, every story they wrote or things of that sort, would have to agree somewhat with that candidate. If that specific candidate won the election, even in the long run the Inquirer would somewhat have to support him. I think what the Inquirer chose to do was in the best interest of the public. Journalists should provide a ground for their readers and for the people. I think a newspaper that is less in your face about specific candidates will 1) be more popular and 2) interest more readers. The Inquirer should stick to writing about each of the candidates that could potentially impact our lives and give the people a ground for thoughts and discussion. (for all elections to come in the future)

Dan O'Neill said...

No, journalists/publications as a whole should not endorse certain political policies or candidates, because simply, it is not their place to do so. If one is writing a story about a possible political candidate, there should not be anything said about their skills, efforts, or what he/she can do if they get elected. What should be said is their background info, what they want to change, and what else they stand for that may, or may not, make them accessible to possible voters out there.

Now, if you're a writer who is creating an opinion piece, then yeah, endorsing a political candidate isn't such a bad action, because that's what you're there to do if you so please. Anything else, isn't fair to the readers at home expecting a subjective viewpoint from the writer. Same goes for the publication itself.