In praise of candidate endorsements

Why do newspapers endorse political candidates?

At best, it’s an archaic practice, a little quaint, a little bizarre.

Other media don’t do it. TV and radio news never have, in part because their roots are in over-the-air broadcasting, whose regulatory overlords traditionally frowned on opinion-mongering.  Magazines—apart from partisan sheets whose politics are integral to their brands—shy away. Online, today’s media are brimming with opinion, but none of the dozen or so Internet-based news sites I frequent explicitly support one candidate or another.

So what’s with newspapers? Why is it that every election cycle, they routinely defy their own sinking revenues, shrinking payrolls, reader skepticism, and declining credibility, and tell us how they think we should vote?

And is this a good thing? Is it a neural twitch from a moribund industry that refuses to accept its own irrelevance, or the legacy of a proud tradition of public service?

This year newspaper endorsements have gotten more publicity than usual because a number of papers that supported President Obama in 2008 aren’t Continue reading “In praise of candidate endorsements”